A Little Bit of Kindness Can Go A Long Way in a Kia Niro PHEV

They say little bit of kindness can go a long way.  As it turns out if you are driving a 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) you can go even further on less. Right before we shut things down for the holidays Kia Motors America invited Jillian from Hello Splendid and I to take a “Choose Your Own Adventure” road trip from L.A. to San Francisco and we had the most amazing time spreading kindness all over California together.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

As exciting as this adventurous opportunity was on its own, this would also be a very meaningful trip for the two of us to take together. Just 39 weeks prior Jillian received some very life changing news.  Before this, we had been talking about “one day soon” taking a road trip together. I’ll tell you that I leave a lot less for “one day soon” now. Our plans for the trip and so many more things would be put on hold as all concentration had to be forth to fight this new diagnosis in the months following. It felt like the world was simultaneously spinning and standing still for everyone. When we talked 36 weeks ago, it was decided as soon as it was possible we would ABSOLUTELY be taking that road trip we had talked about. It was a promise of something to hold on to, something to hope for. So much happened in the weeks that followed but on December 13 we finally were able to set out on that road trip together.

Day Made. (Ps I love you @hellosplendidblog )#thenewkia

A post shared by Lifestyle Blogger ?Alice Chase (@alicechase) on

As it is with a choose your own adventure type trip we got to choose the adventure!! We had a starting time/location, a generous budget at our disposal and an ending time/location- that was it! There were a few other teams traversing the roads with us and given the same parameters. A list of bonus points would be granted and tallied once we reached the predetermined destination. Before we arrived, Jillian and I had talked about how we would structure this adventure. One of the biggest themes we wanted to incorporate was kindness. Kindness is something we both feel strongly about making time for no matter the day or agenda. Countless times we have both given and received kindness in different forms the last year and it was the best way we could imagine to theme our trip.

kindness kit Collage

As we prepped for the trip, Jillian shopped for supplies to include in our “kindness kits” and I started planning our route. Trip planning and finding unique destinations is one of my favorite things to do. I especially enjoy catering each trip to the interests and likes of those taking it. Jillian let me keep the itineraries a secret until literally the moment we were on the road. I love surprises but I’d totally be lying if I said I didn’t have butterflies in my tummy wondering if she would like what I had chosen.

After a brief product presentation and run down on the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, charging stations, and lunch, we had a fantastic send of from Charles Phoenix a master of road trip Americana! His energy totally set the stage for road trip excitement! We didn’t have to worry about where we would be recharging on the road as there were plenty of level 1 and 2 charging stations in between our starting point and end destination. Whether you’re at home or on the road, rest assured you’ll find a power source anywhere you can plug into the electric grid. And with Kia’s UVO eco App, you can schedule charge times at home and find public charging stations.

But first…. Target! We needed a few more supplies for a very important stop that would come later. On our way in and out of the store we made it a mission to return all the stray carts in the parking lot. It’s such a simple thing to do and costs nothing. It made at least one employee’s job easier that day and the organized side of my heart was fulfilled. Kindness mission #1 : CHECK!

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid roadtrip Target

It was time to get on the road before we hit too much of L.A. traffic. Even with the best of planning, we definitely saw our fair share of traffic but we had plenty of great conversation and music to keep us going. Every road trip needs its soundtrack and  the Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System delivered crisp sound for all our playlist favorites. The Clari-Fi™ technology restores compressed tracks for noticeable clarity. The music wasn’t fading but after a few hours on the road we were . We made one stop for coffee and hustled towards our evening resting stop. We drove over mountains and watched the sun set. When it became dark we could smell the smoke from the California fires inside the Niro. Our conversations became more serious as we thought about those who had lost so much. We traveled a bit further the smell of smoke dissipated as we entered the Danish streets of Solvang, California, a location that has since become one of my favorite locations in the U.S.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

We were in love with the town right away. We arrived to our hotel, The Landsby, about 7PM. The hotel staff was lovely and made a ton of recommendations for places to eat and visit during our stay. They were kind and welcomed us genuinely. We took our things to the room and were in love with every detail, from the llama artwork on the walls to the tiny lavender sachets reading “good night” placed on each of our beds. We were so enamored with every detail here. I promise to do a full post just on the Landsby itself soon.

The Landsby hotel Solvang CA

One challenge we had arriving to Solvang later in the evening was that the town begins to close down around 8-9 pm. This left us with just a few options for dining but those that were open were welcoming and warm. We walked to dinner at a location nearby our hotel thinking we might enjoy a little stroll after. When we stepped out after dinner the temperature had dropped dramatically. Instead of walking, we hopped back into our Kia Niro PHEV and toured this adorable storybook city listening to Christmas music just in awe and grateful for this time together.

Solvang CA flag

As we were driving and noticing the adorable shops and just FALLING IN LOVE with every shop and street in the city we noticed something else. There were a record number of fire trucks also parked along the road and completely filling one parking lot adjacent to our hotel. Many of the men and women helping to keep the residents and landscape secure during this time were also making Solvang their safe space for the evening. This gave us another moment of kindness inspiration.

delivering kindness kits on our roadtrip

We didn’t know exactly when or where our Kindness Kits would come into play during our trip but we knew that if you prepare the opportunity will present itself. The next morning we left a few items of support to those serving all year long.

Delivering Kindness to firemen in California

After that we were off in search of a traditional Danish breakfast. It’s funny to be a transitioning vegetarian in a Danish community- sausage or some form of meat is offered always. There were definitely options but we in search of the traditional æbleskiver.

Danish æbleskiver in Solvang

Aebleskiver are round pastries, like pancakes formed in a sphere.  In Denmark, æbleskiver are common at Christmas and over the days leading up to it. In December, they are often served with gløgg, Scandinavian mulled wine. In Norway, warm waffles have much of the same function as æbleskiver in Denmark.

Shoe store in Solvang CA

We walked by a few shops and so many that we wanted to visit. We decided at breakfast that we would scrap a few other things on the agenda in order to stay as long as possible in Solvang. We were already planning a trip back. Before we left we did a little photo shoot with our matching Dinosaur costumes because when you have a friend that has a matching costume the only question is “Will it fit in my carry on?” (more Dinosaur photos coming soon!)

dinosaur costume at the Landsby

The staff at the Landsby had been so nice to us that we made sure to leave them a handwritten note of thanks. I can’t wait for my next stay here!

Thank you notes hotel

We had several more hours of driving ahead of us so it was time to get on the road. Our next stop was one we were both very excited about. The last several months had given us plenty to catch up on and as with most road trips there were several stretches of highway for miles.

Kia Niro PHEV

Due to the route we chose to save time we didn’t have a ton of ocean front views but we waved as we drove by. Jillian lives just steps away from the ocean in CA so we were most excited about seeing parts of California that neither of us had discovered.  We definitely did make note of several places we want to stop on our next trip.

Our next stop took us to Oakland, right across the bridge from San Francisco. We both have a friend who is near and dear to our heart, Brandi from Mama Knows It All.  Even though it was moving week for her she was able to get away and meet up for a quick visit. Little did she know that we had a surprise for her too. (Remember that Target run we took ?)

Gifts for a friend

These items may seem like an unusual combination but have a meaning. Together they represent trusted friends who: travel through life with you even when the outcome is uncertain, genuinely celebrate your wins, believe in your gifting, show up at just the right times, and offer their gifts to you making life even sweeter. Simple gifts and time together, no matter how short, are treasured.

2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid

We attempted to recharge the Kia Niro PHEV while we refueled on donuts and coffee and found it so easy to locate charging stations anywhere on your route. You can check for available charging stations right from the dashboard in your car or from the Chargepoint app. We weren’t far from our next stop in San Francisco. This night we would be staying at Hotel Zeppelin.

Hotel Zeppelin The Den

Hotel Zeppelin gameroom

It wasn’t long before all the teams had arrived together at the hotel. It was such a fun reunion with all the other road trip teams who has been out traveling as well. We got to see pictures of the different roadside attractions, share stories of adventures and ways that kindness was shared. It was an amazing thing to see that although we have lots of choices in the route we take there is joy in every journey and the people who share it with you.

The next morning Clarissa, Jillian, and I loaded our suitcases back into a Kia Niro PHEV and headed out to the airport to return to our homes spread literally across the nation. We all agreed what a wonderful experience it had been and we started planning for our next trip(s) together in 2018.

Airport friends

What were some of the best trips you took this year? Any special road trips planned for 2018?

*As is common, all travel, accommodations, and budget for this trip was provided for by our host, Kia Motors America. All opinions and storytelling are the sole expression of the author. 

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

As we look out with anticipation towards all the possibilities that 2017 may hold, it’s important we take time to reflect on all that happened the year before it. I do this each year and it always seems likes so much more greatness happens by the end of the year than what I first anticipate. I believe this happens when you leave yourself open to adventure, partner with creative, driven people, and live your life with the purpose of collecting and telling great stories. Thanks to our work with Kia Motors in 2016 we were able to tell a plethora of great stories, with incredible people, and have some really awesome experiences. Here is a recap list of some of our favorite memories from 2016.

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

Dinner under the Stars ( Mom 2.0 at The Ecology Center)

Enjoying the Suite Life ( Hotel Emma, Salamander Resort & Spa, Hotel Zepplin, Solage)

Solage Calistoga suite

Suite at Solage Calistoga CA #KiaSoulTurbo

Ice Box Hotel Emma San Antonio

Hotel Emma, San Antonio TX #ExperienceNiro

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA #KiaSoulTurbo

We went back in time in Middleburg VA when we drove the all new 2017 Cadenza ( more here)

Alice Chase and Africa Miranda Kia Cadenza Virgina

and we saw the future and what vehicles we would be driving when we get there during  SEMA 2016.

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola

Soul First Class

Soul First Class photo cred: Kia Motors

And went to some pretty unusual places ( Borrego Springs, Seven Magic Mountians, Bird’s Cafe, Penny’s Cafe, )

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Alice Jeff Joel Seven Magic Mountians

Birds Cafe, CA #KiaSoul Turbo

And some really beautiful places too.

San Francisco Bridge #KiaSoulTurbo

#KiaSoulTurbo Drive

Vegas Views SEMA Kia

Vegas Views

I even got to make a music video and karaoke with some of my coolest friends

This was just a recap of what made 2016 so special. (Be sure to go back and check out any posts on adventures you missed from 2016!) I’m sure 2017 will have even more in store for us. Some things are already on the books and I’ll share with you in the upcoming weeks. Other adventures are still to come and we’ll both be surprised when them come to pass. The exciting part is that with every new place, adventure, and road traveled we learn more about ourselves and have the opportunity to explore and share these stories. Thanks to every one of you who chose to follow along and take part by reading here, interacting on our social channels and generally being such a support and encouragement. Huge thanks to Kia Motors for both taking me along on these adventures and allowing me to tell part of that story. It’s always an awesome experience!!

Being in the Right Seat can Make all the Difference : the 2017 Kia Niro #ExperienceNiro

My San Antonio adventure with Kia  was a welcome getaway before our personal marathon of holidays, wedding planning and welcoming a baby into the family began in the weeks to come. Truthfully, I was looking forward to the luxury travel experience the Hotel Emma and a few new experiences as well.

My previous experience with sports can be best summed up with the phrase… “I don’t sport”. I enjoy the competitiveness but just have never pledged an allegiance to one team over another. I’ve gotten by generically rooting “Go Team! Yay Sport!” This method typically works well for every sporting event. Needless to say, I felt a bit out my league attending a NBA game, Spurs vs Celtics, during our trip.

NBA San Antonio Spurs

We were transported from Hotel Emma to the AT&T arena in a spirited party bus and escorted up to a suite catered with an array of delicious food and drinks to pregame. Soon, a few of us would take our seats court-side to watch the game. Have you ever watched a game from the floor ? Oh my goodness, courtside is the MOST FUN EVER!! Here’s a few pics from my seat:

I even made a couple of new friends while I was down there and we took selfies, because of course,  we did! We also talked about what influencer marketing is and how great Kia is.

So, as it turns out I DO LIKE SPORTS! Who knew? A good seat can make all the difference.

Hotel Emma San Antonio Texas

As I walked through the hotel lobby the following morning, I couldn’t help but notice the elaborately decorated Christmas trees, holiday music playing in the background, and fireplaces roaring. My thoughts wandered toward the list of presents still to be purchased and wrapped, cookies to be baked, and errands to run back at home. I tried to reconcile time versus tasks and finally just pushed those thoughts aside as I walked into the morning presentation. After all, I really was so looking forward to hearing more on the 2017 Kia Niro and getting my first chance to get behind the wheel myself.

Hotel Emma Kia Niro Event

The Niro is the first hybrid crossover of its kind. It is stylish, aerodynamic and offers plenty of interior space you wouldn’t typically expect from a hybrid.

2017 Kia Niro

It also delivers on the exceptional fuel economy you do expect to see thanks to the hybrid-optimizing powertrain. The Niro touring model I drove, outfitted with top-level accommodations and trim, will manage 46 city, 40 highway, and 43 overall. If you’re willing to trade out a few of the comforts the touring offers, the FE base model will deliver impressive fuel economy ratings of 52 mpg in the city, 49 on the highway, and 50 combined.

2017 Niro fuel economy

After previously driving other a hybrids, there were a few things I just expected to have to overlook because of what I attributed to the nature of driving a hybrid. My biggest surprise was finding that those things I expected to overlook just didn’t exist in this car. On the road, the Kia Niro was extremely responsive and unexpectedly, simply felt like driving a high performing crossover. I highly recommend going for a test drive but be sure to leave anything you previously thought you new about hybrids at home.

In the Kia Niro San Antonio

Dare I say the Kia Niro was even fun to drive. It feels a little strange saying that a hybrid was “fun”. Can you be really be both fun and responsible? Does this mean we’ve grown up? Is this “adulting”? The answer is : Probably.

Luckily, the Kia Niro still looks really cool, so no one will know we’re adulting now.

Kia wasn’t about to let us get too serious though. This was the perfect opportunity to prove that the Kia Niro really is the perfect vehicle for any situation, especially spreading magic and cheer. Remember, I mentioned the increased interior cargo space?

Kia Niro trunk space

When we went out to get behind the wheel, we were delighted to find two Santa hats and every inch of cargo space filled with newly purchased toys to deliver to the Toys for Tots location on our route.

Kia Niro toys for tots

It didn’t take us long to quickly slip into our Santa hats and off we went with the 2017 Kia Niro as our sleigh for the day!

We drove through the city route until we arrived at the Toys for Tots donation center and unloaded the toys to deliver inside. Outside a line of Marines stood at attention.

toys for tots Kia niro

It didn’t take long for my long list of to-do’s, to-get’s and worries from earlier in the morning to be far removed. My concerns now seemed insignificant in comparison. My perceptions were shifted as I was enabled to give and serve. I was humbled to offer something that cost me nothing in front of those that would be willing to give their everything. I thought about the military spouses and children who will be separated from their loved ones this season. I wondered about the families receiving the toys and hope that on Christmas morning their homes are filled with laughter and that joy shines as brightly as the glow of Christmas lights.

My experience with the 2017 Kia Niro was completely different from what I originally expected. Originally, I was simply really excited to drive the Niro on familiar roads in my home state of Texas. What I came to learn was that  if you are open to something new,even in the very place you feel most at home, you can identify what is truly important. You may even discover you DO like sports, you DO love driving a hybrid, you’ve just got to be in the right seat.

HUGE thanks to Kia for allowing me the opportunity to get a first look at the 2017 Kia Niro and for being amazing hosts during my stay at Hotel Emma, including all transportation and expenses during my time in San Antonio. 

San Antonio Adventures with Kia Niro #ExperienceNiro

Exciting News! My Christmas wish came early this year. I was granted one last travel adventure before the year ends. I’m off to San Antonio to check out the 2017 Kia Niro! Be sure to watch instagram, twitter, and facebook for real time updates Dec 14th- 16th!

Kia Niro #ExperienceNiro

If you’ve been following our story for very long, you’ve seen we have regular routine of traveling throughout the year. We had scheduled to end our travels mid November through the new year intentionally so we could be home for a variety of family events and holidays. After a few weeks without a trip however, I was getting rather restless. So when presented with the opportunity to come and check out the brand new 2017 Kia Niro in San Antonio, I jumped at the chance. It was a Christmas miracle! 😉

Living in Texas, I’ve visited San Antonio several times before but this trip will give me the chance to experience the city in a whole new way. I’m really excited to share this adventure with you all as well! Since Kia is an official NBA automotive sponsor we couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend a Spurs game. That will actually be new for me too.

NBA San Antonio Spurs Kia Niro #experienceniro

I’m sure there will be fabulous food! Our family has always found great places to dine in San Antonio. I’ll be staying at the Hotel Emma with its rich history and divine details. Take a peek at their website and you’ll see why I am SO excited to be a guest there.

Hotel Emma San Antonio Texas

I’ll also be able to give you first hand information on the Kia Niro. It’s a vehicle I’ve been checking out as I’ve shopped this season. If you’ve seen my IG posts, it’s been featured in malls across the country this holiday season. Our family had the opportunity to look it over and now I’m looking forward to driving before the year is out. Thanks Santa!!

Not only does this fit the bill for the welcome travel opportunity I’d told Santa about but it also combined an automotive brand I love in my very favorite state in the US #texasforever. I’ll do a full recap after I get back but for now you all can follow along live on IG, facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much to Kia for covering all travel and accommodations on this adventure! 

Looking into the Autonomous Future at SEMA 2016 #KiaSEMA

As a young girl, I remember watching movies about the future and being enamored at the possibilities of what would one day be. Handheld video games, hoverboards, being able to call one another through video conferencing, dehydrated foods, touch screens everywhere and even the Cubs winning the world series…

These were all once far off ideas, mere creative fantasies captured in film, that now are our commonplace reality. They have been produced, manufactured, and some have even been around long enough for a recall. Perhaps the only thing we haven’t obtained in full measure from those futuristic films is flying cars. It looks like we may not be waiting too much longer for those either or perhaps something even better!

kia-sema-2016
Last week during SEMA  2016, Kia rolled out four unique concepts of what  autonomous living might look like for us in the not too distant future. In fact, they anticipate producing fully autonomous vehicles occupying our roads as soon as 2030. I was invited as a guest of Kia to get a first look and share my experience.

Not only were these four Kia concepts designed as fully autonomous, they were also tailored to align with the lifestyles and goals we are each trying to achieve. What if everything in your life was working with you to make your dreams possible? Just imagine what you could accomplish. Take a look into the future with me…..

Kia Soul First Class

Soul First Class

Soul First Class photo cred: Kia Motors

Seeing white and gray diamond stitched leather surrounding upscale travelers with only first class comforts, you recognize instantly how the Soul First Class got its name. Soon business travelers can simultaneously prep for meetings and relax on the road. For those just along for the ride, passengers will enjoy the 40-inch Samsung LED TV connected to a Mac mini computer system and premium audio speakers. Designed by LUX Motorwerks , this self driving concept has two rear-facing seats and no steering wheel( because you no longer need one!). Instead a motorized center console opens like a butterfly to reveal two touchscreen tablets that ultimately control this Kia vehicle. The Soul First Class is ultimate nirvana in both luxury living and executive work/life balance.

Kia Niro Triathlon

Niro Triathlon

Niro Triathlon photo cred: Kia Motors

This is where all my ultra-marathon and high endurance athlete friends will perk up. Night runs, bike rides for miles upon miles and swimming make training an isolating experience. Kia’s Niro Triathlon is here to be the ultimate training partner. Its interior is designed to be a cabin to relax and recharge while also providing top-notch training and safety equipment. “With no reason to drive, the athlete is cosseted in an ultra-comfortable Human Touch zero gravity ergonomic reclining chair. Numerous custom cabinets hold essential supplies, attire and parts, and a portable shower allows for a quick post-race clean-up

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola

Sorento Ski Gondola photo cred: Kia Motors

All of a sudden the lyrics “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” start playing when the Kia Sorento Ski Gondola enters. Instantly notable are the dominator rubber tracks powercoated orange to take this Kia Sorento turned gondola anywhere. This is the ultimate in sport-utility vehicles. Built by LUX Motorwerks to tackle snow and ice as it gets you and your fellow skiers up to the top of the mountain for another run. The luxurious and self-driving Sorento Ski Gondola is all about climbing to higher ground in style, comfort and warmth.

Kia School of Rock Sedona

Kia School of Rock Sedona

School of Rock Sedona photo cred: Kia Motors

One of the most intriguing aspects of the autonomous life is the safety aspects associated with removing the possibility of human error when behind the wheel. This is especially true when children are involved and Kia imagines a world when vehicles will someday autonomously transport our young ones to accommodate their busy lives.

Partnering with School of Rock, this rolling recording studio features everything aspiring musicians crave: a studio, a place to chill and a completely hands-free way of transporting the band to the next gig. The stunning hand-painted School of Rock imagery hides the strong bones of the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and NHTSA 5-Star rated Sedona so parents can be assured their kids will make it to the show safely and with more than 180 locations, School of Rock plans to hit the road in style to perform at various shows with their talented musicians.

A digital mixing board and dual flat-screen monitors to record tracks. Front-mounted near-field speakers pump out the tunes and when a track is being laid down, the RECORDING light mounted to the roof illuminates. Vocalists will appreciate the boom mic that hangs from the ceiling. Sound-studio-quality acoustic foam panels line the interior to reduce exterior noise during an intense recording session. Should the band decide to host an impromptu roadside show, the Sedona’s lift gate flips open to reveal an imposing stack of amps. There is also storage on the roof for guitars, bass guitars and a myriad other instruments. Fun and comfortable custom bean bags allow the band members to relax or jam in style.

I was invited to experience SEMA 2016 in Las Vegas as a Brand Ambassador on behalf of Kia and share my experiences. This post,including my travel and accommodations were sponsored as part of the experience. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.  Be sure to check out www.Kia.com for the most current news, designs and offers.