Road trips through our home state of California are one of my family’s favorite summer activities, and this summer was no exception. To celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday, we took a road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Yosemite National Park in a 2015 Kia Sedona SX-L.
This minivan of the future is host to a wealth of impressive features that make it the ultimate summer road trip vehicle including Blind-Spot Detection, Cornering Brake Control and satellite radio. The vehicle was also named best new car design at the 2014 New York Auto Show.
Yet for me, during the drive my favorite feature was the vehicle’s large windows on the Dual Power Sliding Doors. My grandma liked them too!
You see, I’ve never been good at reading or doing anything much productive during road trips – I’m usually too captivated by what’s outside the window.
And with the immense windows on the Kia Sedona, I had a crystal clear view during our California scenic drive.
In my travels when I tell people I am from California, they often express excitement and ask questions about Hollywood or the beach. But my home state has so much more to offer than stereotypes. So come along with me through the rolling, golden hills of my childhood and discover the real California through the windows of the Kia Sedona.
The roads of Northern California are flanked by golden hills. While these hills have been brown every summer going back as as long as I can personally remember, it is important to note that California is in the midst of the worst drought in a generation. In fact, the current drought has been going on for nearly five years. This summer the state is facing near-record and record breaking temperatures, making the drought even more severe. On our drive to Yosemite National Park we passed many parched landscapes like the one below that brought the severity of the lack of water to light.
The state of California produces 17.3 percent of total agricultural output in the United States. The State produces more than 400 crops, more than any other state in the country, and agricultural production was recently valued at more that $46.7 billion. The current water deficit threatens this important industry in the nation’s most populous state.
Dairy and beef are also large industries in California. There are more than half a million cows in California. We passed a few on our drive and they didn’t seem to take note of the bleak conditions regarding the drought.
California has a long and interesting history that locals get to study up-close in fourth grade. Inhabited by a large number of indigenous groups, the Spaniards became the first Europeans to settle in the lands. In the 1700’s, Spanish missionaries set up 21 California Missions a days ride apart on horseback for 600 miles from San Diego to Solano. California officially became the 31st state in 1850 following the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848. The process to statehood was completed in record time, fueled by the Gold Rush. Gold was first found by James W. Marshall in a town called Coloma and 300,000 people flooded the state in search of their own fortunes.
On a California scenic drive there are many historical sights to discover. My family and I stopped at the Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail in Chinese Camp (yes, a cringeworthy name for a town) to learn about the region’s history during the gold rush years.
The roads wind enroute to Yosemite National Park. California has a lot of winding, steep roads that are only fun to drive if you are in a proper vehicle. Luckily for us the vehicles 276 horsepower made for a quiet and speedy drive.
After a few hours of driving my family and I reached the town of Groveland, known as the Northern Gateway to Yosemite. This is the largest town between Sonora and the Northern entrance to Yosemite. It’s historical main street has a host of shops and restaurants, including my favorite, Dori’s Tea Cottage. It’s also home to the Iron Door Saloon — the longest continually operating saloon in California.
We reached Yosemite National Park and my mom was reached back to her days as a Girl Scout with the sight of Half Dome, a peak she hiked with her troop. This granite rock formation is perhaps the most recognizable part of Yosemite. A maximum of 300 people are allowed to hike it each day, and getting a permit to do so can be tricky.
The first National Park to be established was Yellowstone in 1872. Yosemite National Park was established in 1890 and is celebrating its 125th anniversary. John Muir, America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, lobbied for the forest lands here to be set aside. Today the park encompasses 1,500 square miles.
Rock formations and tall trees loom within the park. I really enjoyed the Kia Sedona’s dual sunroofs because they allowed us to get a greater sense of the nature here while still in the vehicle. It was exciting to feel surrounded by nature while still in the comfort of my first-class executive seat.
Given that my grandma is 90 years old, she can’t hike much, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t take in the beauty of Yosemite. Thanks to such large windows, my grandma got to see a lot of great scenery without leaving the vehicle. One of my favorite vantage points is the one below, on the drive to Glacier Point.
Of course, not all of Yosemite’s best sights can be discovered through a window, and my siblings and I did leave the vehicle to go on a few hikes like this one to Lower Yosemite Falls. No, not all vistas can be explored through a wind, but the 2015 Kia Sedona can take you there so that you can get out and explore the rest on foot!
Note: I was provided with a Kia Sedona to test drive. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.