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Travel

Travel

American Heart Association, Hands Only CPR

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with the Anthem Foundation, however, all opinions are my own.

Do you travel a lot? I do and I love it, however, I hate layovers. They always seem to be either too short, where I find myself running through the airport breathing like I’m having an asthma attack to make my flight or too long, where I feel like I’m sitting around wasting my time when all I want to do is get to my destination. I’m all about a good journey but sitting in an airport feels like wasting precious time.

Sure, short layovers make for a good YouTube video but it’s not exactly fun for the poor person running through O’Hare bobbing and weaving trying to make their connection. It’s not particularly healthy for some of us. We’re not all marathon runners, most of us are average middle-aged parents living in the land of the biggie-sized and the home of the sit around and binge watch all day. One time trying to make my connection to a flight to L.A., I was convinced that I was going to have a heart attack right there in the airport. By the time I got on my flight, I was doubled over out of breath and all red in the face.

Speaking of heart attacks and long layovers, did you know that now people can learn Hands-Only CPR through Anthem Foundation supported training kiosks in about five minutes while they wait for their flights in many U.S. airports?  I had no idea this was a thing. Pretty awesome, right?

Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital, and about 20 percent occur in public places such as airports. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest when it occurs in public, and CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

The interactive kiosks are designed to train large numbers of people on this simple, lifesaving technique. Each Anthem Foundation- supported kiosk has a touch screen with a short video that provides an overview of Hands-Only CPR, followed by a practice session and a 30-second test. With the help of a practice mannequin or a rubber torso, the kiosk gives feedback about the depth and rate of compressions, as well as proper hand placement – factors that influence the effectiveness of CPR.

Travelers can also select Spanish from the kiosk’s main touchscreen. The Spanish language capability along with closed captioning in Spanish is available on all Anthem Foundation-supported kiosks at airports.

Hands-Only CPR has two steps, performed in this order: when you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 911. Then, push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives. Remember anyone can save a life.

I can’t think of a more productive way to spend my layover than learning how to save someone’s life. Just as I can’t think of a worse way to spend my layover than by standing around helplessly watching as someone else dies from a heart attack, maybe some poor out of shape mom, like me, who had to run through the airport to make her flight.

 

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Netflix, roadtrip, Streamteam, travel, children

The holidays are my favorite time of year. There is just something about the chaos of it all that makes me energized. I thrive on the craziness. It’s my happy place, especially when you add in baked goods, holiday music and all the twinkling lights your heart can desire. There is one part however that I could give a good pass on; holiday travel.

It’s not that I don’t like traveling. I love it. I love visiting family. I love going home. I love seeing new sites and old ones too. I even love the actual act of traveling…the journey, not just the destination but during the holidays, traffic is a special kind of hell. Everyone is trying to get somewhere and all of us are getting nowhere fast. There is nothing I hate more than being stuck. The worst kind of stuck is in an enclosed compartment for long hours with no possibility of escape and children.

My children have fortunately inherited my wanderlust and verve for life. They’ve unfortunately also inherited my lack of patience. On the precipice of tweendom, they are far more pleasing travel companions than they were as toddlers. Aside from the occasional, about 25 times an hour, inquiry, “are we there yet?” they tolerate long trips very well. Nothing a pair of good noise canceling headphones can’t rectify. But when they were tiny, as cute as they were, they were the worst.

Road tripping with toddlers is not for the weak. A few years back on a quick trip to Virginia to check out the city for a job move, we found this out the hard way. The girls were just about 2 and 4-years-old. We decided in our youth and naiveté that a long drive across the country was just what our sanity needed.

The area was one of the most gorgeous parts of the country that I’ve ever been. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful, large metropolitan cities concealed by nature. There as nothing not to love about the destination.

The 12-hour journey with toddlers, however, left much to be desired. My, otherwise, sweet loving girls apparently had a time limit to being constrained in those 5 point harnesses. On a good day that was a trip across town. You can imagine their state of mind at the very thought of taking their very first long road trip imprisoned in those body shackles.

My rambunctious eldest insisted on asking, every 20 minutes, “Are we there yet?” I always thought that question was a parenting cliché but now I realize that it is, in fact, the truth of traveling with children. I never realized how frazzling that could be to me as a person. I thought “those” moms have no patience. Just say, “Not yet, in a little while.” Why all the overreaction? Then I realized that it can actually bring you to the brink of insanity and make a grown woman ugly cry if asked in the right voice and enough times over a 12-hour period.

While the oldest was hitting us with the barrage of “Are we there yet”s the youngest was freaking out over a gnat. Yes, a gnat, that supposedly must have been the scariest, meanest, baby eating gnat you ever did see because, god bless her little bitty heart, she screamed bloody murder for at least 3 hours of the trip. We were all ticking time bombs.

In summation, my 4-year-old was wondering if we were there yet, every single second of every single minute we were on the road. My 2-year-old was being terrorized by a gnat and screaming so highly pitched, that all the dogs of the world were seeking her out to eat her and end the misery. I was on the brink of insanity, on the verge of losing the battle and my poor beloved husband was trying to plot his course to the nearest gunsmith to rent a gun and buy a bullet.

Then I pulled out my bag of tricks because obviously, the 1200 DVDs that I brought were not holding their attention. First, we colored (you know those Wonder Crayola colors that magically appear on the special paper but nothing else. That’s what you think, but that’s another story entirely), then we colored the glittery ones, then we colored My Little Pony. We sang, only the songs that they know so we had Bella’s favorites, “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Mary had a little Lamb” and Gabi’s favorites “Happy Burtday to you!” and ” Five, Five Dolla..Five Dolla foot long!”

Yes, my 2-year-old was obsessed with the Subway commercial jingle. Have you any idea how many times they used to play that thing? I do, because she sang it incessantly for her second year. Don’t get me wrong, in the right context, it was absolutely adorable. She was the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, besides her sister, of course, but everything in moderation. Interrupted only by the “Are we there yet?” inquiry of her sister.

So on the brink of insanity, on the way to the gun shop, we stopped at lunch to let them stretch their tiny legs at some wayward Wendy’s in West Virginia. Not my idea, have you seen Wrong Turn?

We got lunch, they had ants in their pants and couldn’t keep still. We got the food, the chicken flavored whatsamanuggets are not done, still doughy,”EWWWW, gross”, as my daughter liked to say. I returned them. We waited again, I returned with nuggets, all is good in the land.

Then a “fly” dared to descend upon the table. All hell broke loose. Toddlers jumping everywhere, screaming, crying, running away in terror. I mentioned it was a fly and not Godzilla, right? Not a horsefly, just a regular old house fly! In true fix the situation fast fashion, I took off my flip flop and the untimely death of one unsuspecting fly ensued. All was good in the land.

Then Gabs, because all of the attention we just received was apparently not enough for her, screamed, at the absolute top of her lungs “EWWWW, FAARTED.Stinks”. Absolutely, mortified, I say ” OK, honey, it’s OK.” Then I realize, amongst all of the commotion, she did not have any kind of flatulation incident. Apparently, she just thought it was funny and liked to take credit, really loudly.

The point of all of this recounted trauma is that I am so thankful for things like Netflix and noise canceling headphones and toddlers who have grown into tweens who now find many ways of entertaining themselves. Daddy’s hotspot has saved us all many times on long road trips to Disney.

If you are looking for something to binge on your next long trip. My top recommendations are Alias Grace, Godless, She’s Gotta Have it, Glitch, Frontier, Man Down and Stranger Things.

For the tweens, I recommend Riverdale, Stranger Things, Anne with an E and my girls’ favorite, Project MC2.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenFor the toddlers/preschoolers whom I adore, Octonauts, Beat Bugs, Super Monsters, PJMasks and Word Party which are all available for download.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenSpeaking of long drives to Disney World, did I mention all of the amazing Disney Movies that Netflix currently has in the queue? What are you binging right now?

Disclosure: I am a member of Netflix’s #StreamTeam but all opinions and genuine love for Netflix are my own.

 

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toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know about you but travel is a form of religion to me. Nope, I don’t think travel is my God but in a profound way, I feel closer to something bigger than myself when I’m experiencing the beauty and the wonder of the world, especially if there’s music playing loudly in the background. For example, when I am flying or on a boat in the ocean, I feel freer and smaller than I’ve ever felt before yet, at the same time I feel grounded and significant in my small part. Sometimes when you’re on the open road headed toward a destination, driving can feel almost like a holy experience. I know, it might sound weird to some of you but to others you completely understand.

There is just something about taking all of that beauty in and really comprehending the enormity that this planet is where we get to live, in all of its natural glory. I’ve always loved travel but it’s only been the last few years where I’ve really begun to appreciate the beauty of the different landscapes, people and cultures. I want to show my children the entire world and everything in it

Last month, I was loaned the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited in toasted walnut pearl. I mean, is there a more perfect color name for a car that you are driving around amongst the changing leaves? The 2017 new front fascia with an updated front grille and redesigned headlights make a bold first impression.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know everything there is to know about the Toyota brand, as I have never owned one myself but I know what I like. I have friends and family members who will only buy Toyota because they hold up so well and last for so long. To me, that says something about the brand. The Highlander certainly exceeded any expectations I had.

I was pleasantly surprised by what it added to our travel experience. Not only is it a beautifully sophisticated piece of machinery, it is eco-friendly, which is something else that I tend to look for more as my fondness for the planet grows deeper.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

Traveling with my family is my favorite thing to do and we do a lot of that traveling on four wheels. We like the freedom to stop and explore along the way. So the little things matter, especially when you are in a car for 18-24 hours.

Here are some of my features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal lights and blind spot warning indicators and folding features. Safety, convenience and indulgence all rolled into one.
  • Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade and jam protection. This moonroof adds a level of sophistication and adventure.
  • Three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers, and second- and third-row vents. This is perfect, especially for long road trips with children, tweens and/or teens. Everyone controls their own temperature, a little less complaining and distraction for the driver.
  • Integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines. At this point, I am annoyed with any vehicle that doesn’t have backup cameras but the dynamic gridlines feature is perfect for new drivers learning to parallel park and just be safe in general.
  • SofTex®-trimmed 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat with sliding headrests and recline function. I know this sounds like an unnecessary luxury but believe me when you have tall passengers, stuck in a vehicle for long amounts of time the recline functions is definitely one that you will appreciate.
  • Blue LED ambient lighting on the interior of the front and rear doors and in-dash shelf. This sounds so unnecessary but I’m telling you, it’s one of those things you never knew that you always wanted. That little bit of ambient lighting makes all the difference when getting into your car at night.
  • Five total USB ports (three front and two second-row). Talk about convenience and luxury. There are 4 of us, we each have an iPhone and iPad and they need to be charged. No more fighting/bickering over whose turn it is to use the charger.
  • Second-row retractable window sunshades. If you have babies, this is a lifesaver on long trips. If you have children of any age sitting in the back seat trying to stay entertained with electronics or just not spend the drive with the migraine-inducing sun in their eyes, you too will love these window shades.
  • I love the safety features. I will have teen drivers in not too many years.
  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) — Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). My girls will be driving before I’d like to think about and I will feel a lot less anxious if I know they are driving in a vehicle that does its part help keep them safe.
  • More safety features we can all get behind. Star Safety System™ — includes Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST).
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) like backup cameras, how did we ever live without these features?
  • toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

**No husbands were harmed in the taking of this photo. He just has a morbid sense of humor and was in desperate need of a nap.

  • The storage space is huge. I was able to put my 6’5″ husband in the back. Not that you’d move a body in the Highlander but, the point is, you could if you needed to 😉
  • And, did I mention the mileage on the Highlander Hybrid? If I didn’t I definitely should have. I had the vehicle for 10 days and never had to fill it up. The mileage is out of this world compared to my Enclave.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travelI could go on for pages but these are just a few of my favorite features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. All of these features help me to focus on what is important about family vacations, family and not let the small stuff like comfort, charging stations and gas mileage ruin the whole thing.

Travel really is an experience that transcends time and space, your mind needs to be free to wander without distraction and completely immerse in the people and places you visit. Traveling with my family, showing them the people and places of this planet, is having the very best of both worlds. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited makes the journey as fantastic as the destination.

What was your favorite family trip destination? How did you get there?

Disclosure: I was provided the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited to drive for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I’m definitely a 5-star resort kind of girl . I love luxury, lazy rivers, hot tubs, and wifi. I blame my husband. Before him, I was the outdoorsy type. I’m not sure if I loved roughing it or I just grew up in a family of 6, so roughing it was the standard on vacation. I never considered that RVing is the best family trip you can take your children on.

I could often be found hiking, swimming, rolling down some grassy hill, laying outside looking up at the stars or just staring in wonder at the natural beauty surrounding me. I took great pleasure in the simple things. The beauty of a sunset, the grass beneath me and the sand and surf between my toes. These things made me happy.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I graduated from university, started having babies, a bad back and no time. Suddenly, 5-star resorts became my gold standard. I’m not afraid to admit that I adore a good room service breakfast in bed. Achy bones and a weary body make a good bed and a deep tub my happy place. Until a couple years ago.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family should go RVing before their Kids Grow Up

I attended an epic road trip with Ford where I drove from Kamloops to Calgary and it was a life-changing moment for me. I was reminded of how truly awesome this world is and how it is ever changing. I knew then that I needed to share this with our girls.

I came home from that trip changed forever. I wanted nothing more than to immerse them in that inspiring, mind-blowing beauty in person; to see how breathtaking mother earth is without the distractions and noise of everyday life. I wanted to take them to this quiet solitude with nothing but the hum of cicadas, the soft summer breeze as it rustles the trees and the crash of the surf meets the shore. I wanted them to hear the ripple of their life that you can only hear when alone in nature.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

My love for nature is innate. Both of my parents descend from farmers, so we appreciate the earth because we know it gives life. I guess I just never realized how damn beautiful she was until that moment in Banff. I was ready to share this immediately but photos can’t do justice to that sort of beauty. It always falls short plus that kind of natural peace has to be felt to be understood. But due to circumstances beyond my control, that moment would have to wait.

Finally, last month, we got the chance to give them a taste of all that beauty. We took the girls on a camping trip to Michigan, courtesy of the Traverse City KOA and GoRVing and it did not disappoint.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

A bad back and age sometimes make me feel like I’m in my 80’s. But, I dream of sharing all the national parks in the United States with my girls; being outdoors and appreciating the small things that we take for granted so often. I want them to look up at the sky at night and see the millions of stars surrounded by nothing but nature and love. I want them to see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky and be left breathless. To do all of that, you have to leave the bright lights of the city and go to where nature is still untouched. You have to go camping to really be in it.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We stayed in a stationary RV that looks just like a cabin but is actually built on an RV chassis and towed to its final destination. It was gorgeous and perfect for the first time camper, the person who wants to be one with nature but prefers indoor plumbing, the avid glamper or those of us who just might prefer some of the luxuries of home, while communing with nature.

READ ALSO: The Secret to the Best Road Trip Ever

However, you slice it, I would highly recommend staying at the Traverse City KOA and renting a GoRVing RV, stationary or otherwise. You won’t be disappointed. I know we weren’t. It had all the comforts of home, including tv and WiFi, which we didn’t really use but it was nice to know it was available if we needed it.

Our trip was for 4 days and it was the best vacation we had all summer. We travel a lot and we do love it. We love big cities and exciting things but being in nature is a different kind of vacation. There was no need for scheduling and planning. The only plan was to get on the open road, enjoy one another and the nature all around us.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Camping is the kind of trip that refuels your soul. There was something absolutely magical about sharing the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my daughters, swimming on a private beach and eating the best pizza ever at a market.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We combed the beach for rocks to make kindness rocks for others. We danced and sang with our tweens as we barbecued outside and laughed so hard that we cried while sitting around a bonfire talking and roasting smores. It was magical because we slowed down enough to just be with one another. We talked. We listened. We laughed. We came back together stronger.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I don’t know about you and your family but I suspect it’s similar to mine, we work all the time. We work hard. Between the Big Guy and I working, the girls going to school and 6 days of ballet a week, there is not a lot of time for just being, as much as we would love more of it. We try to have dinner together and we do talk to each other every day. We make the effort to ask questions even when we are all so busy and tired all we want is a nap and some silence. Camping together allowed the rest of the world to fall away for four days and it was just us and nature and it was truly the most special time.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Before we even got home, the Big Guy was talking about making this an annual trip. But I think we want more. I’m hoping to get to take my family to the national parks out west next summer, hopefully in an RV. I want that togetherness that camping provides.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I only have 6 more summers with my oldest daughter before she goes off to college and that fact is not lost on me. Each moment is precious. I’d love to have at least 6 more RV camping trips with our girls. I want them to look back on their childhood fondly and remember all the magical moments together standing in awe of the beauty of nature surrounded by all the love.

Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On, sleeping bear dunes, camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I want to extend a sincere thank you to GoRVing.com and the Traverse City KOA for facilitating this absolutely magical trip for my family. It’s changed the way we vacation. I guess I’m not as much of the 5-star hotel girl as I thought I was. The outdoorsy me is still inside and begging to sleep out under the stars.

If you don’t have an RV, staying in a park model cabin like the one we stayed in is a popular option to try out the RV lifestyle.  Some campgrounds also have travel trailers all set up on site available for rent.
In addition, there are some companies like Camp N Style located in San Diego that will bring an RV (could be a travel trailer or a motorhome) right to the campground and hook it up so when you get there, its ready to go!  These are generally equipped with pots, pans, dishes, full kitchen & bath, AC & heat, too!.

Ready to plan an RV adventure of your own?  Visit GoRVing.com for info on how to get started, how to choose the RV that’s right for you, where to go, what to bring and so much more!

 

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Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Ever wonder what the secret to the best road trip with family really is? I see families doing it all the time and I’m like, “that’s never how our road trips go.” We’ve spent countless road trips being tortured with, “Are we there yet?” So much so that I think I may actually have some road trip PTSD to join my stepping off curbs variety. I just always suspected all those awesome families having amazing road trips must be either the really patient types ( I envy them) or maybe just well medicated. But I wanted whatever they were on because I loved the road trips of my childhood and I want that with my girls. I love the whole “expect the unexpected” sense of it all.

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Vacation You Can Take Your Children On

A couple weeks ago, we went on one last summer road trip as a family. We just needed to go someplace to be one with nature and one another. You know what I mean. We needed to unplug and focus on what was really important before plunging headlong back into the craziness that is our day to day life. We decided to visit the Traverse City KOA in Michigan.

We’ve never been to Traverse City and the girls and I have never been camping but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Traverse City is about a 4.5-hour scenic drive from our house and there was a promise of quiet, stillness, sand dunes, waves and Lake Michigan for as far as the eye could see. Most importantly, it was going to be togetherness with no distractions.

READ ALSO: Places You must see and Do on San Diego Road Trip

The girls are 10 and 12-years-old now. Not to jinx it but I like them. They are becoming humans who I want to spend time engaging with, listening to and getting to know. So the only thing I had on my mind was getting to where we were going and enjoying the journey, company and the destination. I wanted to bask in every single moment of it.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Thanks to the generosity of KIA I was loaned a 2017 KIA Sorento for the journey. I’ve driven a Sorento before, a few years ago, on a press trip. But there is a big difference between driving a vehicle for a few hours and driving it for a few days on a trip trapped in the car with your family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

It takes some time to really get to know a vehicle and be comfortable driving it on different terrains, at different speeds, in stop and go traffic, local traffic and on the highway. These all make a difference in the feel of the vehicle and let you experience how it handles. Sort of the way, taking a group of city folks into the wild and letting them camp for the first time does. Put it this way, we all learned a lot about ourselves doing new things in a new place that weekend.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I’ll tell you about the camping trip in another post but I want to tell you about this vehicle. When I think of KIA, I think dependable and budget-friendly. I used to think of the perfect car for someone in their 20’s.

I love the brand and the brand’s mission. They really are working to make the world a better place with their hybrids and eco-friendly line but this 2017 Sorento SXL surprised me. It wasn’t what I expected.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Firstly, the Sorento is not only gorgeous, it rides like a luxury line vehicle not what I expected for this price point. Talk about getting a bang for your buck and being pleasantly surprised. Currently, we own an Enclave and a Cadillac SRX. We love both cars but the 2017 Sorento had the luxurious drive feel of the Cadillac at a much lower price point, about half even less if you didn’t get the SXL. It also had better gas mileage than both of our current SUVs. We do a lot of driving around town with our girls and all the activities they are in so gas mileage is important to us.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The Sorento has too many bells and whistles to mention all of them but some of my favorites were the reclining second-row seats, perfect for road trips and tired tweens. I’m all about convenience and comfort. We’re tall people, well they all are, and they need lots of leg room. There was plenty in the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Speaking of the tweens, they loved the panoramic sunroof and power shade and the integrated 2nd-row window sunshades. This is perfect to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes or for the tween trying to sleep or shoot a Music.ly without being washed out on film. Either way, it beats the heck out of those shades we used to buy at the baby stores to keep the sun out of their eyes. It was super convenient and seamless, not obtrusive and ugly.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I, personally, loved the power-folding outside mirrors, windshield De-Icer, heated and cooled front seats, smart key immobilizer and adjustable height smart power liftgate. My husband is 6’5” so he needs super-sized everything and not banging his head on the liftgate is a definite bonus. He fell in love with the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Did I mention the UVO eservices with navigation, 8” color touch screen display, SiriusXM traffic, HD radio, Android Auto and Apple Car Play? All pouring into the car via the Infinity 10-speaker audio w/Clari-Fi External Amplifier and subwoofer. We are huge music people and a road trip is just not a road trip without music. I mean, seriously, you need your Despacito to be loud so you can all sing along but be able to hear it so crisp and clear that it feels like you’re at the concert, was the icing on the cake.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Now, on top of all of this, the 2017 Sorento SXL has everything I’d want in a car for my girls who are approaching the driving age faster than I’d like to admit. So in addition to being sleek, sexy and beautiful, having a ride like you’re in your Lazy-boy at home and every convenience, you could ever possibly dream of it is safe because KIA is all about family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The 2017 Sorento has a rear-camera display, rear parking assist system, surround view monitor, blind-spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking and steering wheel mounted audio, hands-free phone and cruise control so no searching around and not paying attention. For me, this makes the Sorento the perfect vehicle for everyone in my family.

READ ALSO: Best Things to do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

From the mom with the precious cargo on board to the family with tweens in the back seat as your road trip across America to the new teen driver who you send out into the world on their own; there’s no car I’d feel safer doing so in than the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travelI can honestly say that driving the 2017 KIA Sorento SXL on our road trip made the journey as amazing as the destination, and the destination was pretty damn amazing.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Disclosure: I was provided the KIA Sorento to drive on our road trip but all opinions about this vehicle are my own and those of my family. We loved it and that’s the secret to the best road trip ever.

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family, disney vacation, walt disney world resort, epcot, frozen ever after

Last month, we took the girls to Walt Disney World in Orlando. We’ve been many times in the past 18 years but, apparently, never in the sweltering hot months. I am here to warn you, NEVER go to Orlando during the summer months. We were there at the end of June and the heat index was 108 degrees. I felt like God was holding a magnifying glass over Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom while trying to fry all of the park goers. I literally wanted to cry, as my face was melting off. Lesson learned. But still, happiest place on earth.

But thanks to that horrible, swampy heat we did get to discover some rides and shows that we would have otherwise never have tried because when you are that miserably hot, you get a whole new perspective and exerting the least amount of energy, going where there is air conditioning and staying cool becomes a game of survival. Heat stroke is no joke so I’m telling you all the cool things to do at Disney.

I’m glad we went in June so now I know to never do that again. I’m just too sensitive to the heat to enjoy that kind of warm weather. If it wasn’t sweltering heat, we were being caught in torrential downpours. I am not referring to the quaint mid- day showers that come through and cool Orlando down, these were unrelenting and turned all of Orlando into a soupy, sweat box. It was hard to stay focused on the fact that I was at my happy place. Heat makes people grumpy.

Aside from the heat, the trip was one of our most enjoyable to Walt Disney World because we’ve gone so many times, we were able to mosey and not rush and when we were tired we went back to the hotel and rested. I’ve told you the top 25 secrets to rocking your Walt Disney World vacation but this is the addendum for the summer. Also, remember, everything is cooler at night and Walt Disney World has you covered with extended hours if you are staying at a resort on grounds.

Here are a few of our best tips to beat the heat at Walt Disney World during summer

Walt Disney World, Disney, hollywood studios, Sci-Fi Theater drive-in, stay cool at walt disney world, magic kingdom, buzz lightyear, toy story

Magic Kingdom

The Liberty Tree Tavern

I know it was hot outside but this place serves comfort food to the extreme. Think Thanksgiving all year round. Yes, I know, in theory, it sounds like an unwise choice in the heat but with all that walking and burning of calories, it was the best thing ever. It was so good, in fact, that we are actually planning our next trip in the fall, just so we can fully appreciate all that comfort food.

Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies

Best.Sundeas.and.Smoothies.EVER. But if you want to be practical, get the smoothie, it cools you down longer.

Casey’s Corner

I have passed this hot dog, ball park themed restaurant a million times and never stopped. Enter, hungry Debi looking for an air-conditioned restaurant on a sweltering day. The food was simple but delicious and the air was divine.

Mickey’s Philharmagic

Had it not been for the heat, I would have bypassed this gem and made my way onto something outside but I am glad that I didn’t because it was adorable and cute. Perfect for the entire family.

Astro Orbiter

Coolest ride ever. Did I mention, all these years and I never knew it was an actual ride? Yep, I thought it was just really cool decoration. Look up, people!

Transit Authority People Mover

I’ve seen this but never rode it before. It was awesome. Yes, it moves slowly and totally reminds me of something out of Wall-E but when it’s 108-degree heat index, it is totally okay to just ride instead of walk.  Not only is it ok, it is encouraged by this Disney addict. Survival of the fittest, and sometimes “fittest” means the lady who was smart enough to stop exerting herself in the heat.

Haunted Mansion

Enchanted Tales with Belle

It’s a Small World

Pirates of the Caribbean

 

Walt Disney World, Disney, hollywood studios, Sci-Fi Theater drive-in, stay cool at walt disney world

Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along

Sci-Fi Dine IN Theater

One Man’s Dream

Pizze Rizzo

Walt Disney World, Disney, hollywood studios, Sci-Fi Theater drive-in, stay cool at walt disney world, magic kingdom, epcot, frozen ever after

Epcot

Coral Reefs: Disney Animals

Walt Disney World, Disney, hollywood studios, Sci-Fi Theater drive-in, stay cool at walt disney world, magic kingdom, epcot, frozen ever after

Frozen Ever After Ride

Soarin

Gran Fiesta Tour Featuring the Three Caballeros

L’Artisan des Glaces

All of these places mentioned at Walt Disney World are sure to keep you cool and indoors.

Not to say that there isn’t still plenty to do outside. I mean, come on, the place is a beautiful, waking fairy tale but when the heat is out of control, especially if you are from a climate that is not as hot, it’s good to have cool options to pop in and out of throughout your day at Disney World.

This trip also gave me the opportunity to explore lots more different restaurants (table service is your friend in sweltering heat) than normal because we usually stick with favorites. I will do a follow up to this post on all the great places to eat at Epcot and tell you all about Pandora, including lots of photos, insider tips, and video. You won’t want to miss it!

pandora, pandora at night, Walt Disney World, Disney, hollywood studios, Sci-Fi Theater drive-in, stay cool at walt disney world

What’s your favorite attraction, ride, restaurant or thing to do while visiting Walt Disney World?

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Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This past weekend, we took a road trip to Chicago. I still can’t believe that there is so much that I haven’t taken the girls to do in my hometown. Over spring break, I took the girls to see some of the more nationally known sites in Chicago. Usually, we just go to grandma’s house.

But last week, I took the girls home to some of my old stomping grounds i.e. the beach. My girls hear me talk about “the beach” all the time. They know I spent all my summers swimming and playing in the waves at “the beach” but as they’ve gotten older, they are all, “Hey, ma! There’s no beach in Chicago. It’s a lake!” And I‘m all, nope, Mommy doesn’t do “lakes” in the traditional sense because..ewwww, fresh water ( more like doesn’t move water) barely moves and unless there are rapids or waves, I’m not getting in. You’ve heard about those parasites that go up your nose and your urethra. No thank you!

Anyways, I totally digress, my point is I had to show them that my beach was a beach like the coastal beaches they’re used to, not like a rock covered pool of stagnant water buried in tick country. Yeah, don’t invite me to your lake house. I won’t come. I took the girls to the beach twice in 3 days. They get it now. They know what I mean. They loved it. They want to move to “the beach”. This makes me happy.

Aladdin, beach, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

We also consumed lots of food that is indigenous to “the region”. The region is where I hail from, it’s the Chicagoland area but not the city. We are 20 minutes from downtown, on “this side” of the border. Meaning everything we grew up doing was in Chicago but since you could walk to the state line in 5 minutes from my house, technically, I lived in Indiana but I knew nothing about Indiana. I never even saw corn until I went to college. Boiler up!

We hit our usual local eatery favorites; Barton’s Pizzeria and White Castles. You can take the girl out of the region but you can’t take the region out of the girl. Then we hit Portillos. I had a hot Italian beef with all the Giardiniera they could put on it. The spicier the better. It was delicious. My youngest ordered a Chicago dog with nothing on it but ketchup. WHAT? She nearly lost her ish when they brought her a poppy seed bun. Fortunately, she was too hungry to go into a full on refusal.

But this trip was even more special than usual because aside from hanging out with cousins and barbecues and beaches, we took the girls to the city for an extra special date night that included a stop at the Joffrey with my two ballerinas to surprise their besties visiting from North Carolina.

A side trip to Marshall Fields (oops Macy’s! Who am I kidding it’ll always be Marshall Fields to me the way the Sears tower will never be the Willis Tower) because mama made an unwise shoe choice and then we had dinner at the Randolph Tavern about a 1 minute walk from the Cadillac Palace Theater. It was delicious and even on a Friday night, it was perfect for the kids. Even had an awesome kids menu and did I mention the Sangria because I should have. It was delicioso!

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

But the piece de resistance was that we took the girls to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theater thanks to the generosity of Broadway in Chicago. You know how we love our theater. If you have the chance to take your kiddos to go see it…go see it! It was amazing. In fact, you don’t need kids to go see it. If you watched it back in the day when you were a kid, it’s even better on stage. Bet you didn’t think it could be possible did you? Well, it is. I like live productions and 3-dimensional characters. I was in theater heaven.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The Cadillac Palace is a gorgeous old building located in the heart of Chicago’s theater district.

Aladdin the musical, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including, “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

That was the press release version of Aladdin the musical.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This is my version of Disney’s Aladdin on stage.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The colors are vibrant. The atmosphere is vibrant. It’s electricity and you can feel yourself drawing from the energy of those on stage. It started with a bang. I honestly was not sure that they could pull it off, bringing an animated story to the stage. I thought it would fall flat of my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised by how animated and magical it all felt.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The music was pitch perfect and so animated that you almost forget that you’re watching it on stage as you are transformed into an animated world of Agrabah.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater, Anthony Murphy

Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, was a show stopper. He was absolutely hilarious and played the part as larger than life. The only thing more grandiose than his stage presence was his powerful voice.

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Aladdin, played by Jacob Dickey direct from the Broadway production, looked a bit like a young Rob Lowe. He was the embodiment of the animated Aladdin. I didn’t think it could be done but he really brought the character to life, literally.

Aladdin, Isabelle McCalla, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Jasmine, one of my girls’ personal favorite princesses, played by Isabella McCalla, was the tiny, spit fire that I always hoped Jasmine could be. She was feisty and sassy and perfection.

 

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Another favorite character of mine was Jafar’s sidekick, Iago, played by Reggie De Leon . Firstly, I loved that they changed the character from a bird to a human on stage. It just played better. He was a sidekick no more. He was hilarious, perfectly timed and his dry humor was appreciated more than I can convey.

 

I loved that the Abu character was replaced by 3 friends of Aladdin (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) not only did it play better in a live production, it gave the story a new dimension that made more sense in the real world. They were sort of an attractive, endearing version of the three stooges but they had pipes.

I know that everyone loves the “Whole New World” scene in Aladdin the animated movie but I have to say the magic carpet ride in the live production was nothing short of magical. I swear I saw no strings and I still don’t know how they did it. It must be that Disney+Broadway+Chicago=Magic.

Now, I will warn you, if you are a die hard Disney Aladdin animated purist, like my husband, there have been some changes.  I will list them here so that you know they are coming. There are more songs ( because it is a musical), Abu has been replaced by 3 male friends of Aladdin ( so there is no monkey on stage), Rajah has been replaced by 3 female attendants (so again, no tiger on stage. I think that’s safer for all involved), Iago is not a bird but instead a human and Genie is not a cartoon but he is larger than life and very animated.

My personal opinion, I’ll take the live action production on stage.The animated movie is still near and dear to my heart because of the hundreds of times that I’ve watched it with my girls but you can’t beat the magical feeling of being part of a live production. I think my daughters and my nephew totally agree with me.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Aladdin is now playing in Chicago as part of the North American tour launch at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph Street) for a limited premiere engagement through September 10, 2017.

Tickets for Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre start at $44.  In Chicago, tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago by Broadway in Chicago but all opinions and love of Broadway stage productions are my own.

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado, HardRockHotelSD

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.

This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?

When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!

Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.

If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Balboa Park

Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Chicano Park

I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.

USS Midway Museum

The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)

Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Mission Basilica de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.

The Gaslamp Quarter

I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

If you’ve been to San Diego, what’s your favorite place to visit on a San Diego Road Trip?

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Disclosure: I was invited to San Diego for a press event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. All opinions are my own.

Road trips and travel are things that I thrive on. The open sky, ocean, and road call to my soul. The wanderlust is strong with me. Seriously, put me on a plane, train, boat or automobile to anywhere and I’ll have a good time immersing myself in the culture and surrounding myself with the people. I look at every new destination as an opportunity for adventure and we’re teaching our daughters to embrace the journey as much as the destination.

Now that you have an understanding of my absolute adoration of travel and road trips, I’d love to share one of my most recent trips with you. A few weeks ago, KIA invited me to a ride and drive event in beautiful (heaven on earth, as I like to call it) San Diego, California.

The icing on the cake, I got to road trip and explore all over the city in my pick of the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. I drove the all new eco-dynamic Niro and the Optima Hybrid EX. But also available were the SOUL EV and the Optima Plug-in Hybrid.

 

I explored San Diego with my girls, Becky Boricua and Wendy Nielsen jamming out to Despacito on the amazing Harmon Kardon sound system (sorry about the repeat playlist Wendy. You were a good sport) and we had a blast. It was so nice to drive around knowing that the whole trip wasn’t leaving a nasty carbon footprint.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The new line is not only eco-friendly and good for the earth (which hello, with Trump’s recent antics pulling out of the Paris Act, we definitely need to do all that we can to help take care of this planet for our children’s sake) but they are also fun to drive. I think they are the perfect marriage of beautiful, fun and budget-friendly.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

A few fun facts about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line that maybe you didn’t know. Firstly, did you know that KIA is the only car company on the planet to earn the environmental validation award? I am all for helping the environment. I have a crunchy streak in me a mile wide but there’s a lot I didn’t know about eco- friendly vehicles and I don’t think I’m the only one.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The Optima Hybrid that I drove was completely redesigned for the 2017 model and gets 39 miles per gallon (MPG) city and 46 MPG highway. Since it’s a hybrid, you have the best of both worlds; eco-friendly but still get that torque for a little extra kick. Don’t think an eco-dynamic vehicle can be badass? You would be wrong. You should hear the 630-watt Harmon-Kardon sound system in the new Kia line. The Optima plug-in hybrid can drive from San Francisco to San Diego without stopping, on one battery charge. What? That’s pretty amazing, right? Now, if only I could get m bladder to go as long as that battery.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

If you are looking for something a little bigger, the Niro gets the best mileage around at 76.6. mpg. It is a hybrid with some kick. Want to be an eco-warrior? This is the vehicle for you.

Still not convinced, here are 5 reasons why you should choose the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles for your next road trip:

1. They are good for the environment (duh).
2. They will save you money.
3. They are loads of fun to drive (I know from experience.)
4. The government supports eco-friendly vehicles and there are perks like preferred parking up close for plug-ins and HOV lane access.
5. Never worry about running out of gas and being late again because you forgot to fill up the tank the night before. Simply plug it in at night and go on your way in the morning.

In case you are worried that you are going to run out of juice on the road, don’t be. The battery can charge while you drive. Worried what effect plugging in and charging up with have on your electric bill? Don’t be. The cost is 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt so for the Optima, that averages out to be about $1.50 a day to recharge. You can even contact your local electric company and, in some cases, get lower charging rates in the evening! Who knew it was so easy to be kind to the planet? What are you waiting for?

If you have any other questions about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try my best to get you the answers. Also, the news just came out that after ranking highest in 2016, the new KIA keeps the top spot for 2017 and has more segment award winners than any other brand!

What is your favorite new KIA eco-dynamic vehicle?

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Huawei Mate 9,Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

This is my first post on The TRUTH and I thought I’d tell you about the most fun you can have with your clothes on… the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run. Since becoming a dad, traveling without the kids has become somewhat of a distant memory but once a year, I go with my dad and my brother (depending on whether or not any new babies are being added to the family) on a  guys trip that includes bourbon and hot rods.

By the way, I’m Wayne, referred to as “the Big Guy” here on the blog for the past 8-years. Nice to meet you. I’ll be writing here occasionally to give you the Guys Side of things. Well, this guy’s side, anyways.

For the last three years on Memorial Day weekend, my father and I have participated in the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

What’s the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, you ask?

I know, my wife says it sounds like a Ramones’ song but it’s not. What it actually is is an organized classic car cruise that ends in Kentucky with distillery tours, tastings and some very unique photo ops.

The Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run was started by a car club out of Chicago called the Tin Militia.  This year’s run was especially fun and not just because I got to spend the weekend cruising with my dad in his black 35 Chevy Standard Coupe hot rod with no bickering tweens for miles. There was just something different about it this year; something special.

How does the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run work?

We left the house at 8 am on Friday morning to meet up with the first group of cars.  Many of the drivers from this group drove in from all parts of Ohio.  Once we got assembled at the first stop, we headed off towards the next meet up point.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

On the way to the second spot on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run we stopped by a garage in this small town that had a lot of old gas station signs to take some photos.  After we were done with the cool photo op, we meet up with the rest of the group coming in from Chicago.

The range of vehicles was large.  There were cars that had been completely restored down to cars that had never been touched. My father’s car is a 1935 Chevy with an LS6 motor in it. It’s a pretty bad ass hot rod if I do say so myself.

From our second stop on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, we all left together and cruised down to the third stop for lunch.  After lunch, we fueled up and the entire group cruised to the hotel.

We checked into our room, collected our souvenirs and then went down to return the car to its pristine state and of course, check out the other hot rods.  After about an hour, we headed to the first distillery on the tour, Peerless Distillery, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

Peerless put on a magnificent event for us for the opening event of the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.

They opened up after hours to give us a private tour, closed the street down and barbecued for us. Before the tour, we had the chance to do some shopping in the gift shop.  They had a lot of cool Peerless and bourbon drinkers merchandise available for purchase. The hardest part was trying to decide what to buy, especially since we had more distilleries to visit the next day.

While we were waiting for our tour to begin, we sat down at a table and started talking to a guy who was sitting there. Little did we know that he would turn out to be the owner, “Corky”.  In fact, he was the fourth generation owner. See, it pays to be social!

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

He gave my father and me a private tour. It pays to be nice to people, you never know who you might be talking to. It was really interesting, he told us all about the family history and the distillery. Let me tell you, it was amazing.

Corky’s father served with General Patton in the second world war and was his right-hand man.  And since they could prove their lineage they were able to get their great-great grandfather’s liquor license number DSP-KY-50 reinstated.

After we got done talking with Corky we had the official tour.  Peerless has a beautiful facility. On the tour, we learned their process for making Bourbon and Whiskey and at the end of the tour, we got to sample some of the product. Aside from the conversation with Corky, that might have been my favorite part.

When the tour ended we went back to the gift shop and purchased a bottle of their “just released” whiskey and had Corky sign the bottle. Then we ate while the others went on their tour of the distillery.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

At the end of the event, Peerless selected a car of the show and awarded them a trophy. We took a group photo in front of their amazing building.  When it was all over, we left Peerless with our bellies full and headed back to the hotel to prepare for day 2.

All photos were taken with the Huawei Mate 9  phone which in my opinion, even as a long time iPhone devotee, is the best phone to take on a road trip. It has dual-SIM cards: The Mate 9 features a dual SIM card tray, so it’s easy to pop in an international SIM while still being connected to home and you can also add an SD card for more memory for all of the gorgeous pictures you’ll be taking on vacation. Talking about pictures, the Mate 9 also has a top-of-the-line dual lens camera, co-engineered with Leica designed to be as close to a DSLR experience as you can get in a smartphone – with amazing modes like Food Mode, Night Shot, and Beauty Mode and special features like the Wide Aperture mode for the “bokeh” effect, a standalone Monochrome lens, and the ability to shoot in RAW format. The Huawei Mate 9 also has a long-lasting battery with a huge 4,000 mAh battery that can go for up to two day’s normal usage and safely charges the device for a full day’s power in about 20 minutes.

What’s your favorite travel accessory? Do you have an annual guys/girls trip you take with friends or family?

Coming soon, more of our adventures on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.
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