Our Big Gay Road Trip

Lifestyle, Travel

*This experience was sponsored by Kia Motors of America, and we thank them for inviting our family to test drive one of their cars for our family vacation.

“Can you believe none of us has ever been to the Grand Canyon?” said we.

That’s how the idea for this road trip started, at a cocktail party with friends talking about our plans for summer vacation. The Bailey-Klughs were the only ones in the room that had never see Grand Canyon National Park, so we immediately set out to rectify that. Some friends even suggested we rent an RV for the full road trip experience, but clearly they have no gay friends. “Gays do not RV,” I stated emphatically.

As plans came together to drive from our home in San Diego, we opted to make a big loop from Phoenix to Sedona, and then over the mountains to take in the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, ending up in Las Vegas before heading back home to San Diego. It was an ambitious endeavor for just one week considering we had two teen girls in the car with us, but we soldiered on. As the departure date loomed ever closer, each of us started getting excited about the trip for a variety of reasons.

One of my reasons was the 2017 Kia Sorento we were loaned for the 1,200-mile trip. Ever since test driving a sporty Kia Niro at the Mom2.0 Summit in Orlando where Kia was a premier sponsor, I had formed a positive new opinion about the brand. To be honest, my prior impression of Kia was based solely on those hilarious hamster TV spots for the Kia Soul, where those hip hop hamsters dance it up to some pretty catchy beats.

But the Kia experience in Orlando informed my view more fully, and this road trip clinched it.

Packing It In

If you’ve never traveled with teen girls, let me tell you – they do not travel light (and neither do gay men, for the record). It seemed everyone in our family had packed their suitcases to the brim with various outfit changes, fashion choices for day and evening, and the added needs for hiking and swimming in the hot desert sun. Combine all that with the regular road trip paraphernalia like backpacks, coolers and snack bags, and we were pretty loaded down.

Boy did we pack that cargo area, but it still looks pretty roomy!

But that Kia Sorento made it’s first good impression when it’s 38 cubic-foot cargo hold easily fit all our junk, and then some. Of course the girls had a few last things to throw in at the final moment, and in the end I counted:

  • 4 suitcases (one for just shoes!)
  • 3 dufflebags
  • 2 coolers
  • 2 laptop bags
  • 2 backpacks
  • 1 camera case
  • 2 boo boo pillows
  • 2 blankets
  • 3 hats
  • 4 humans comfortably seated, drinks in hand

Pure Cruising

This puppy was fully loaded with all the bells and whistles and we were happy to have them along for the ride, particularly on the long freeway hauls for multiple hours. I don’t know about you, but I like to use cruise control on longer drives or my leg cramps up. When I engaged the Advanced Smart Cruise Control on the Kia Sorento, all sorts of geeky fun benefits came along for the ride.

If my chosen cruise speed got us too close to the car ahead of us, the Kia automatically braked to a slower speed to follow at a safe distance (not that I’m a tailgater or anything – ahem). Once that car moved aside, the Sorento accelerated back to my original chosen speed, which of course was well within the posted speed limit.

If I accidentally veered into the next lane while checking out a giant saguaro cactus along the road or reaching into the back seat to swat one of the kids, the Lane Departure Warning System sensed I was crossing the line and beeped loudly to alert me while the steering wheel shuddered. When another car did the same and veered into our lane behind us a little too closely for comfort, the Sorento’s Blind Spot Detection System beeped again and showed me on the visual screen where the other car was in relation to us. Even in a parking lot, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert system informed me when a car was passing behind us even before I could see it in the rear camera display.

Pretty cool tech, huh? And my leg never cramped up once.

Kia, Meet Siri

And then there is the onboard control system. With USB ports located throughout the car, every family member was able to keep a full charge on their phones (very important for the teen happiness factor, which in turn affects the parental happiness factor). This way, our music choices were individual and nearly endless.

There was plenty of room for our family, as well as all our baggage (ahem)

The front port allowed me a Bluetooth connection to the car’s touchscreen audio systems. Once my iPhone was linked to Apple CarPlay, I could ask Siri to safely control several things hands-free in the Sorento including music and navigation. Since we didn’t know the route, we needed Siri’s help for directions to our first destination in Phoenix at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. All I had to do was ask, and my request was answered through the car’s onboard sound system. Sweet!

Music was also a snap, since Siri had access to my full playlist stored on my iPhone, as well as the car’s Sirius satellite radio, and a host of local radio stations in every town we visited. Triton likes to listen to podcasts, so we mixed in a few learning opportunities along the road as well – all easy to access through the Bluetooth connection.

Smooth Operator

Let’s just say we sampled a variety of terrain on this trip. Highway 8 from San Diego to Phoenix has its ups and downs, and the Sorento handled the hills without a hiccup, stutter or slowdown. In Sedona, the roads are pretty curvy, and the Sorento maneuvered them with crisp authority.

Good thing nobody had to pee, because we sat stopped and looking at this road equipment for a good 30 minutes.

Heading towards the Grand Canyon on Arizona Highway 89 through Flagstaff, there was a fair amount of road work going on. We had to push through portions of highway that trailed into one-lane dirt roads and gravel pathways within dusty construction zones. The girls were asleep in the backseat, and the smooth Kia ride never woke them up.

(Side note: NEVER wake the beasts).

Not a Drinker

It was incredibly cool of Kia Motors of America to loan us this car for the trip, and the gas bill was not part of the deal. Of course we didn’t mind paying for the gas, and yet were super pleased to realize how far the car would go on one tank full. The stated miles per gallon for the Sorento was 22 mpg, but we used the Economy Mode for our trip and averaged nearly 30 miles per gallon. Because the car was not a guzzler, we only had to fill up the tank three times on the whole trip!

Back at Home

Truth be told, we arrived home from our trip on a Sunday and because of the July 4th holiday, Kia did not pick up the car until Wednesday. Sooooo, I got to drive the Kia Sorento around our home town for a couple of extra days. Experiencing the car on roads I drive every day to work, the gym, the farmer’s market, the beach, etc. was the ultimate proof of how it would feel to own the Kia Sorento.

We put a lot of road on this Kia, and it still shined up very nicely!

And you know what? I kind of didn’t want to give it up.

Now Triton and I are talking about a Kia for the girls when they start driving – safe, economical, sturdy and tech heavy. Hmmmm, maybe the kids will let me drive their car once in a while….

 

*This experience was sponsored by Kia Motors of America, and we thank them for inviting our family to test drive one of their cars for our family vacation.

 

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