This weekend as I reached for a coat to ward off the chill of the new season as I headed out with my youngest for an early Sunday morning dive practice, I found myself missing certain aspects of summer. We’ve traded laidback days of dive practice and camp for hectic ones of sports practice, music lessons, and weekends filled with games. As I grumbled about how cold the steering wheel was as we pulled out of the driveway, my son piped up, “I bet it would have already been warm in the K900. And my seat would be toasty too.”
Touted as a luxury vehicle, the 2015 Kia K900 certainly made an impression on our family. As we drove to dive practice we talked about the things we loved about the K900 and remembered what a wonderful vacation we had on the Northern California Coast.
Located 2 hours northwest of San Francisco, Sea Ranch is a magical place for my husband whose childhood memories of the place come from his parents owning a house there. Sea Ranch is a 10 mile long community on the Sonoma County coast that was built with the natural environment in mind. Houses nestled in the redwoods and located on the bluffs make it a restful place to stay and the incredible opportunities to hike and go to the beach make you want to leave your digital devices behind. Three years ago we visited for the first time as a family, staying in a cabin just a couple doors away from where he stayed as a kid, and fell in love. Ever since the kids have been asking to return and this was our summer to do it.
Traveling to Sea Ranch from San Francisco requires a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. More often than not but especially during the summer months, Karl the Fog shrouds the top most part of the bridge. We witnessed gray skies turn blue as we gazed up through the moonroof as we drove over the mile-wide Golden Gate strait into Marin County.
Just fifteen minutes away was our first stop, In N Out Burger, a requisite stop anytime we’re in California. Car picnics are always a fun part of any road trip but this time the kids deemed the plush black leather too fancy to mess up with greasy French fry fingers and worried about milkshake spillage in the generously sized armrest between them.
With full stomachs, we settled in for a two hour scenic drive where windy narrow uphill roads would take us to coastal Highway 1. I remembered doing the same drive three years ago where we worried that the brakes would fail in the borrowed car from one of my relatives and the radio went in and out.
The powerful V8 of the K900 put our fears aside quickly and provided a smooth ride through gorgeous scenery while we enjoyed alternating between music on our iPod and favorite Sirius stations. With a Lexicon® Discrete Logic7® Surround Sound System and 17 speakers located throughout the vehicle, music sounds exactly like it should. We were also impressed that the Kia displayed the title of Gagnam Style in Korean on the 9.2” display when played through the iPod! I suppose that’s a bonus of a song by a Korean artist coming on in a Korean car!
Turning on to Highway 1 and getting the first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean is always revitalizing for me. Although I love the warm waters of the Atlantic, nothing is quite like the Pacific for this native Californian. Somewhere between Bodega Bay and Sonoma Coast State Park we turned off to park and hike down to Shell Cove Beach. It was wonderfully deserted and different from the rest of the beaches we’d experience on our trip because instead of sand, the shoreline was made up of the tiniest pebbles.
Running around on the beach always makes the kids hot while I tend to get cold. They hopped back in the car shedding layers and wanting air while I craved heat. Luckily individual temperature needs were met thanks to the rear seat heating and cooling system with individual controls, a first for our kids! This feature allowed everyone to be comfortable with minimal complaints that were not missed during our long car ride.
The individual temperature controls were also helpful for the shifting microclimates that are typical of Northern California where it’s pretty typical to have blue skies and then gray ones within seconds. Microclimates can make it tricky to be comfortable, especially during a road trip. You might have the windows down enjoying the warm air one minute and drive into a patch of fog that causes everyone to reach for a fleece. We certainly put the auto de-fog system to the test and the kids appreciated the sunshades for all of the rear windows when there was an abundance of sun.
When we arrived to our destination, the kids scrambled out to play among tall redwood trees, looking for favorite spots they remembered from our stay three years ago and asking when we could head to the beach for tide pool exploration, visit the seals, and search for banana slugs on a hike.
While we had plenty of time for hikes and the beach, we hit some spots that we didn’t visit on our last trip like Point Arena Lighthouse (the tallest lighthouse in California!) and historic Fort Ross that provides some California history and access to more beaches at the affordable price of $8 per car. While we didn’t always set out with a plan, the in-vehicle navigation system was easy to use to get us to where we wanted to be.
If you’re interested in visiting Sea Ranch the Sea Ranch Lodge is a luxurious place to stay for a romantic getaway or rent a house up in the redwoods for easy access to wooded hiking trails or on the bluffs if you prefer a short walk to the beach. Just be sure to have a fabulous vehicle like the Kia K900 that will allow your whole family to travel in comfort and style while keeping your devices charged and leaving plenty of room for luggage thanks to an incredibly spacious trunk.
Kia provided me with a week loan of the K900 and a full tank of gas. All opinions are my own and expenses personally paid. Photos were taken with the Samsung NX30 (affiliate link) that I received for participating in the #Imagelogger program.