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Kia NiroDisclosure: Kia Motors provided me with a courtesy 2018 Kia Niro for my drive from the Bay Area to Pasadena, CA so that we could attend Mom 2.0. No compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

There was a period of time where I could stop at any point along The 5 freeway between the Bay Area and LA and tell you exactly how many miles I was away from either destination. In fact, I have driven that stretch of 355 miles so many times that I have a story on almost each stretch of road in both directions.

True story: my memories are directionally tied.

I think of mostly happy memories of my college self, my young adulthood, driving up and down once a month to see Hapa Papa, and now, as a parent with my ever increasing brood of children.Click to Tweet

Every time I pass by Crow’s Landing (but only when going South), I think of when I got a flat tire right before that exit. I was driving back to LA from an interview with Smith Barney and attempting to write a book. I spent that hour on the side of the road pretending to write said book on my laptop. Instead, I stared at a blank screen and re-wrote the same paragraph at least twenty times to get it just right.

I never wrote more than a few hundred words of that book. I read a lot about writing, but never did the work to actually write.

Coalinga cows

This is not Crow’s Landing. It’s right near Coalinga where there are nothing but cows and it’s stinky but always a hallmark for me. There are usually miles and miles of cows crowded in there so they must have recently sold or slaughtered a lot of them.

I eventually got that Smith Barney job and moved back up to the Bay Area without ever once consulting my boyfriend (who is now my Hapa Papa) and he has never forgiven me for it.

I remember driving north in a rented pickup truck full of my stuff and queen mattress with Hapa Papa following behind in my 1997 Toyota Avalon stuffed with the rest of my junk. I remember both of us crying on the side of the road when he made that return trip south in the rental without me.

A year and a half later, he moved up north with all his stuff in his silver blue 2001 Honda Accord that had just been broken into where the thieves proceeded to steal his airbags, his stereo, and his seat belts. Stealing the seat belts felt particularly mean spirited.

Kia Niro

My attempt at looking like a professional blogger who gets to drive brand new Kia Niros for free! Note the comfy pants and tee paired with fancy shoes.

It’s been 13 years since he moved up and he still doesn’t let me forget how inconsiderate I was.

“What if I didn’t move up to be with you? We would have just broken up?”

“Um, I guess?”

“You never even asked or discussed it with me.”

“I know. I’m an ass. But you knew what I was before you married me. And you love me, right?”

“…”

I take his silence as a yes. HE KNEW WHAT I WAS BEFORE HE MARRIED ME.

I remember driving down with my parents and younger brother in late September of 1995. We borrowed our family friend’s Toyota Previa and the van was full of what I chose to bring with me into my new life as a freshman at UCLA. I was so bored and excited and nervous all at the same time.

True to all our family road trips, my dad played Barbra Streisand and The Carpenters. To this day, I cannot think of my childhood roadtrips without hearing, “Don’t you remember you told me you loved me baby?” or “You don’t bring me flowers anymore.”

I was barely 17, chafing to get my life started.

Who knew I would make that trek in reverse nearly a decade later?

14 years back in the Bay Area (as well as having 4 kids and driving a minivan) have made me soft and worthless as a driver.Click to Tweet

I remember driving up north by myself for the first time in the fog of a 2001 Thanksgiving morning. I had Britney Spears’s Britney album on repeat. I was not supposed to be driving by myself. I was supposed to be driving up with my college boyfriend but we had broken up a few nights before because I couldn’t stop myself from being with Hapa Papa.

My boyfriend gave me an ultimatum and I chose the break up option.

To this day, whenever I see that valley right after Santa Clarita and before the Grapevine, I can still see the fog on the grass, hear Cinderella on repeat, and distinctly recall a rainbow piercing through the mist and being comforted by the promise that God would never flood the world again.

I would be ok. And I was.


Two weeks ago, my friend, Lizz Porter, and I piled all our Mom 2.0 luggage and Lizz’s dialysis stuff into a 2018 Kia Niro that Kia graciously lent us to drive to from the Bay Area to Pasadena and back. They even let us park for free with their Kia cars at the Langham Pasadena.

Kia Niro

Ok, technically this is on the way back because on the way there, the back seat was full of a ton of dialysis supplies but we were too excited to take a pic.

Originally, we had intended to sing along to our old high school choir CDs (yes, CDs because I’m a Luddite and yes, high school because I’ve known Lizz since I was twelve) and old musicals like Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera (London cast recordings because OF COURSE LONDON RECORDINGS). But alas, no CD player in the Niro because these cars are for the 21st century.

Instead, since Lizz is of this century, she used the Kia’s handy Bluetooth function and synced up her phone to the car’s touch screen. We first listened to a bunch of 90s music but then, Lizz realized I was a Hamilton virgin.

This could not stand so thus, I was indoctrinated into the world of Hamilton.

We almost died because (spoiler alert) I forgot that Hamilton’s kid died and that song destroyed me. I was driving up the Grapevine (what is it with the Grapevine that I’m always either getting speeding tickets or trying not to die while driving it) and all of a sudden, I CAN’T SEE BECAUSE I’M WEEPING.

I’m still not over it.

But now, I’m obsessed with Hamilton and on the drive home, I demanded (I mean, asked nicely) to hear it again. And since my memories of The 5 are directionally based, I will now always think of Hamilton and the Kia when I drive up the Grapevine because I was trying not to kill us as I was wiping my face from all my eye leakage.

Incidentally, I’m really disappointed my car doesn’t have the blind spot alert lights on the side mirrors like the Kia Niro does. I cannot tell you how amazing these were to have – especially when driving around LA.

Kia Niro

2018 Kia Niro hanging out at a pitstop.

I particularly appreciated the beeping the Niro would make if I attempted to change lanes and a car was still in my blind spot. There are way too many cars in LA and though I drove there for nearly a decade and used to be a ruthless driver, 14 years back in the Bay Area (as well as having 4 kids and driving a minivan) have made me soft and worthless as a driver.

I need the blind spot alerts back in my life so I don’t give myself whiplash checking mirrors and lanes whenever I make a lane change in my giant minivan. I’m hoping I can check out the Kia Sedona when I go visit Seattle in August with all my kids and crap piled in it.

At any rate, I’m super grateful to Kia and DriveShopUSA for trusting me with their car and letting me be part of their story. Now, I have more layers to my memories of The 5.

Since my memories of The 5 are directionally based, I will now always think of Hamilton and the Kia Niro when I drive up the Grapevine because I was trying not to kill us as I was wiping my face from all my eye leakage.Click to Tweet

In fact, it’s kinda like time travel.

Every time I drive The 5, I see so much of my past as the scenery flies by. I think of mostly happy memories of my college self, my young adulthood, driving up and down once a month to see Hapa Papa, and now, as a parent with my ever increasing brood of children. Perhaps, one day in the future, I will be driving one of them to their first year at UCLA and I will once again, be a little bit bored, a little excited, and A LOT nervous.

Kia Niro

Look. I really can’t be expected to maintain cool and professional for long. After this, I conked out for a nice long nap.