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Kia Sedona has handy sunroof.

Sedona's sunroof lets in the sounds and smells of fresh Atlantic air.

Two for the Road
 A trip to Prince Edward Island and the Gaspé in a 2002 Kia Sedona minivan

By Roadtrip Rosie

Kia Sedona at Seaview, near Malpeque, P.E.I.Aug. 21, 2002 -- For my family and me, summer vacation usually means a car trip. In fact our days of touring by car go back to before our kids were born. My husband is a keen roadtripper and I love to plan these adventures. For that reason I've earned the nickname "Roadtrip Rosie."

Over the years we've covered a lot of this country but we end up returning again and again to our favourite spot, Prince Edward Island. And this year, in addition to a week of playing beach bums on those lovely red shores, we decided to extend our holiday with a tour of the Gaspé.

Our vehicle of choice this year was the 2002 Kia Sedona LX (see separate review of this model), In addition to me and my husband, there was our daughter and son and our son's friend. Our children are 19 and 17 years of age, so we're actually talking about five adults taking to the road. How, you may well ask, do you get kids this age to travel with their parents? We've discovered if you promise them an ocean and fresh seafood every day, they will come!

There was some concern at first about whether or not the Sedona could handle the all the gear necessary to make the trek, without resorting to rooftop storage. Experience has taught me that a trip of this nature requires as much provisioning as, say an expedition to the Arctic, only with beach chairs.

Only a few years back, I got us ready for a month-long car trip to the west coast, so I knew I was up to the task. In fact, after many years of marriage and many kilometers logged on the open road, my husband's part in the preparation for our trips has been reduced to just two functions. He supplies the necessary funds for the adventure and shows up in time for departure. However, I have told him on more than one occasion that the second function could be made optional.

Family tradition dictates that we do a pre-dawn launch on these adventures, so packing the car must be done the evening before. Hubby arrived home from the salt mines to find me and our 6 ft 2 in., 17-year-old son (AKA "The Big'n") assembling the luggage and working out a packing plan. The Sedona comes with a split rear bench seat that, when in place seats three, but allow one seat to be removed to increase cargo space. We only needed seating for five, so with one seat gone we had lots of interior room for the gear. And what a pile it was.

The Big'n and I packed seven pieces of luggage, five beach chairs (and none of those collapsible umbrella style ones, either), four beach umbrellas, two coolers, two bags of food and sundries. In addition were a couple of bags of odds and ends that wouldn't fit into any suitcases. My husband checked to see if the kitchen sink was somewhere in the pile but guessed we decided it wasn't needed on this trip. All this and room to breath AND see out the back window. That's cargo capacity! And no need to resort to the rooftop carrier.

Five A.M. the following morning found us all belted in and ready to roll. Large coffees in place, kids each personally wired for sound with their CD players, and we were off. Veterans that we are, we knew that after a mere 12 hours of leaving our home in Oakville, Ont., we'd be in northern New Brunswick, where we planned to spend the night. The drive to P.E.I. is about 18 hours in total and we break it up over two days, doing a big push on the first day and then the remaining six hours the second.

About five hours out, after everyone had had a little more sleep and something to eat, we began to explore the interior of the Sedona in earnest, as we'd only picked it up from Kia the day before for our two-week test drive.

We've realized over the years that one of the best things to do when travelling by car is to make regular, brief stops to allow for a change of driver and for all passengers to get out, stretch and get the circulation flowing again. Recent research has shown the car passengers, like airline travelers, are prone to experiencing deep vein thrombosis. This potentially fatal condition, brought on by sitting for long periods of time, is best relieved by regular movement, so we generally try to stop every two hours or so for a stretch. This also allows for passengers to change seats, so everyone gets a chance to ride shotgun or sit in back in the "cheap seats."

We were pleased to find that regardless of where we sat, the Sedona offered good head room and leg room. The Big'n found the head room in the back a little tight but he managed. Our daughter, The Little'n, had no such trouble, but at 5 ft 4 in., leg room is rarely a problem for her.

As I mentioned earlier, my family and I have driven to the east coast many times and for the most part the drive out of Ontario and into Quebec is, well, boring. The relief, in terms of scenery, doesn't really come until east of Quebec City. Highway 20 follows the south shore of the St. Lawrence. There is an older, two-lane route, Hwy. 132, which runs closer to the shore and takes you through numerous small communities, but if your goal is to put as many kilometres behind you as possible, you need to take Hwy. 20.

Fortunately, even travelling at highway speeds, you can still enjoy the countryside. This part of Quebec is largely agricultural and you can still see the vestiges of the centuries-old seigneurial system that characterized New France. The narrow ribbons of fields running back from the river are still visible and a charming reminder of an interesting part of our history.

By the time we reached Riviére du Loup, our merry little band of travellers was getting a bit testy. The kids had listened to all their music, all snacks had been consumed and numerous card games played. So, my husband decided to liven things up by proposing a rousing game of "20 Questions." Now, it must be said at this point that this suggestion is like waving a flag in front of a bull, one that's been driving for close to nine hours.

I personally hate "20 Questions" and immediately launched into tirade about how we don't' know how to play it properly. When the kids were young and their knowledge of the world more limited, I allowed too much latitude when it came to the person, place or thing rule. I must say it made for some very bizarre games as we tried to guess what the kids had come up with. I think the final straw for me was when our son, six-years-old at the time, picked "the universe" as his "thing."

Anyway, my husband has a secret weapon to make me shut up in situations like this. He threatens to sing (he can't!). As always, the strategy worked. I shut up and the game proceeded. It wasn't quite as much fun as in the old days, but it did pass the next hour.

The end of our first day on the road found us on schedule and gratefully installed in our hotel in Edmunston, New Brunswick. No time to sight-see, just a good dinner and off to bed. Day 2 didn't begin quite as early as the previous day, but with a beach and a glass of wine waiting at the end of the road, we drivers were not about to dawdle.

The drive through New Brunswick is really lovely, particularly down the Saint John River valley. The highway is new and divided coming out of Edmunston, but it soon reverts to the older two-lane road. Passing is aided by the occasional extra lane but the road can still a dangerous one to travel. There's lots of traffic and a great deal of it motor homes and campers. We found that the Sedona, with its 3.5-litre V6 and five-speed transmission, performed admirably when passing was required.

Fortunately, the highway opens up north of Fredericton to a great new divided four-lane road that continues on past Moncton. It's pretty straight forward from there to the New Brunswick border -- about a two hour drive.

The Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to P.E.I., for those who've not seen it, is an engineering marvel and a link to the mainland that makes life much easier for those crossing the Northumberland Strait on a regular basis, but we still pine for the days of the ferry, when crossing to P.E.I. really felt like an adventure. You really had to want to make the effort to go there back in those days, and time your trip around the ferry schedules.

My husband thinks P.E.I. has lost a bit of its charm because it's so easy to get to know. The waiting, the effort, the long ferry ride, made the arrival that much more pleasurable in the days before the fixed link was built, he says. It's too easy now -- anyone can travel there without much effort.

That said, the island is as beautiful and tranquil as ever. We highly recommend a visit. And choose your vehicle with careful planning and you'll have a stress-free trip.

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