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

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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!!

Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas Part 1: From L.A. to Vegas #KiaRoadTripLV

Mention a road trip from L.A to Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas quotes immediately come to mind. (I’ll only add quotes from the script when they are appropriate, although they never really are).  That drive is exactly what a group of us decided to do last week. While the drive route may have been the same, I can assure you THIS road trip of ours couldn’t have played out more differently especially since the most adorable 4 year old ever would be accompanying us – here’s looking at you Bucket List Publications. There were definitely a few oddball journalists among us – I’m not naming names- but we all left all our lawyers at home (1st fear & loathing reference, for those who are counting). If I was making our road trip into a movie, Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas, would have been the most appropriate title. Thanks to Kia for bringing together a really great group for this trip and providing all accommodations, entertainment and Kia Sorento which was the perfect getaway vehicle. We had such a spectacular time!

BucketList Publications Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

It’s ridiculous how excited I was to visit @kiamotorsusa today! #KiaRoadTripLV

A photo posted by TWITTER: @6Chases (@alicechase) on

Our group gathered at Kia Headquarters for a little tour, talk and lunch before we hit the road. Having the opportunity to visit here was exceptionally exciting for me. I’ve attended several events with Kia over the last two years but all occurred offsite at other fabulous destinations. This was a little like being invited into someone’s home. I got to see where all my favorite Kia celebs work, answer their phones and eat their lunch. A peek behind the curtain, where the magic happens and all that. Super fun for me.

We divided up into our drive groups and were off. Jeff, from Out with the Kids, and Joel, from 3jsand1s, were both amazing drive/ride partners. I seriously could not have asked for better guys to take this trip with. Be sure to follow them – they are really great humans. 

But first, let’s take a selfie….

Clearly the most photogenic group of road-trippers you’ve ever seen #kiaroadtripLV @kiamotorsusa #travel #travelblogger

A photo posted by TWITTER: @6Chases (@alicechase) on

Alice & Eden Kia Road trip LV Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

I love this girl! I’ve totally claimed her as my lil sister – we joked that we are getting matching bracelets.

We each had our own agendas along the trip. Some would be doing live video, some stopping at strategic travel locations for photography, others filming video. We decided on a few group stops along the way to keep us all on schedule. Our first group meeting location was a couple of hours along the route at Penny’s Diner.

Kia Roadtrip LV Penny's Diner Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Penny’s Diner

Penny's Diner door CA Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Penny’s Diner  is a classic 1950s-style diner, tastefully decorated with nostalgic memorabilia. They feature standard American cuisine, including hamburgers, meatloaf, old-fashioned sundaes, milkshakes, and malts – all made from scratch. We each ordered a milkshake  or peach cobbler. I ordered vanilla because that is my go-to favorite flavor.

This place was perfect for photos. I was really happy with the ones I captured and could have stayed here for a good portion of the day doing just that. We had more road to take on so we loaded back in for more road trip adventures. Our next stop was in hopes of finding a special craft root beer for Jeff ( “Good people drink good (root) beer- fear & loathing reference).  That’s kind of the greatest thing about a road trip right?? Half the fun is just making quirky stops along the way.  I don’t know if any of us were quite ready for all the quirk we were about to experience.

We had roughly outlined a few items of interest we wanted to stop at along the way. World’s Tallest Thermometer, Seven Magic Mountains, and Alien Fresh Jerky just to name a few. Lucky for us two of these locations were right along the route and practically next door to one another not detracting anytime from our drive. (We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert,….- fear & loathing quote again) 

Alien Fresh Jerky

Alien Fresh Jerky Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

I was so very excited to hear this was the location that housed the special root beer Jeff was looking for because just two days before a friend of mine had snapchatted from this location. It seemed like the universe was echoing a need to stop here, as much as anyone can need to stop at an outer-space themed love shack of jerky, I suppose. Blame it on the desert heat if you will but once we stopped I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it all. It really was a sight to behold. I recommend a stop. 

Alice and Joel Alien Fresh Jerky Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

A traditional roadside jerky stand with a decidedly Space Alien/UFO twist. Just across from the World’s Largest Thermometer, Alien Fresh Jerky has it all. There’s jerky, T-Shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets, strong political opinions and, of course, a place to smash a penny with one of four Alien Fresh Jerky imprints. And, let’s face it, what self-respecting roadside attraction would be complete if one couldn’t smash a penny. More than that, this location held a soda that a friend of mine had been raving about, Cheerwine. I had never seen it before so although I am not a traditional soda drinker I made sure to pick one up and try it.  

Cheerwine Alien Fresh Jerky

As it turns out, Aliens know about all the best stuff : Cheerwine, root beers, dried meats and all. 

World’s Tallest Thermometer

The world’s tallest thermometer is a 134-foot-tall symbol of the record high temperature in the U.S., in nearby Death Valley. The day we visited it was only 108 degrees, a virtual cold front in comparison to the record high temperature in the U. S of 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. If you are looking to add this stop on your trip it sits along the 3 mile stretch of Baker, CA a small town near the Nevada border that calls itself, “Gateway to Death Valley”.

Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains was a pretty memorable stop on our trip to #Vegas #KiaRoadtripLV @owtk @3jsand1s

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This was one of the BEST stops on our drive and we almost missed it. I had mentioned wanting to see it before we headed out but after reaching the lull that every road trip group encounters we had become indifferent to finding it. Luckily the bright colors of these seven towering formations contrasted enough against the muted tones of the desert to catch Joel’s eye. Once he pointed them out we all caught with a second wind of inspiration to search them out for a few fantastic pictures.  We may have even taken a offroad route to reach them we were so excited!

After offroading in the Kia Sorento

*For those that were wondering, the Kia Sorento handles even rockier roads well.

“Internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale site-specific public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately ten miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is situated within the Ivanpah Valley adjacent to Sheep Mountain and the McCullough, Bird Spring, and Goodsprings ranges of mountains. A creative expression of human presence in the desert, Seven Magic Mountains punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color. The exhibition opened May 11, 2016 and will be on view for two years.”

Alice Jeff Joel Seven Magic Mountians Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Within 15 minutes, we would arrive at the beautiful Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas where we  truly were treated like Vegas stars. More on that tomorrow, Part 2 of Friends and Laughter in Las Vegas, but most of it well, you know what they say “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” 😉

On our drive through the desert we talked a lot about the places we’ve traveled and the people we’ve met along the way. My favorite places always involve stories of meeting interesting people. As it turns out, all journeys can be measured in miles but the best ones can be measured by friendships. I came home with a pocket full of amazing friendships this trip. My heart is full.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas