So, a while back I picked this trucko up:
It’s a 2015 Lariat, so kinda bougie but not too bougie. Heated and cooled front seats, no sunroof, leather, no premium audio, power folding mirrors, 5.0 V8. I’d been wanting a truck for a while and really liked the similar year F150 fleet spec we had in Saudi Arabia (another story for another time), so I went the Ford route.
Now, I live in Minnesota, so we don’t have a ton of mountains, or desert, or sand dunes, or other places like you’d have out west. But, what we do have, is some awesome state forests, and MN has allowed driving for pleasure even throughout the quarantine. So, I’ve been taking the truck out, and exploring.
Prior to the lockdown, though, I learned the lesson of ‘don’t leave without recovery shit, you idiot’. Also learned some other lessons about driving, etc.
Also, the factory goodyears suck. Also, goodyear sucks, but that’s been covered extensively by Jalopnik. 600 dollar tow later (rural towing, y’all), I was out. Lesson learned, picked up those two tires in the image to clean up after some asshat litterer and packed them out. This led to a tire purchase in the shape of BFGoodrich KO2s. Long story short, great traction, horrible road manners, wouldn’t balance, turned them back in for a set of Coopers. Much happier since. Also, I picked up a bit of an ‘oh shit kit’, just in case:
Streamlight LED with spare lithiums, one kit with tourniquets, Israeli bandages, ACE bandages, and one with general first aid stuff - bandaids, antiseptics, sanitizers, painkillers, aspirin and such. Also a couple hundred feet of paracord, a trusty Kershaw flipper, trauma shears, lighters, pens and a couple of permanent markers. Not pictured are the two tow straps, and a come-along hand 10k lb hand winch. I’m not getting stuck again if I can help it :)
Now, on to the state forests that I’ve been able to drive in: General CC Andrews was a Civil War veteran who eventually made his way to MN as he got into conservationism and forestry - he advocated for some innovative methods that were adopted after the great Hinckley MN fire back in the day. Neat story, he’s buried in St. Paul MN. Haven’t visited his grave yet, but I’ve visited his namesake forest, and it’s beautiful up there. More on him here:
One of the first places I went though, was Solana forest, which has a gentle road ending at a secluded lake. Although I clearly was not the only person who’d visited, I saw zero other people there that day. Ended up at a nice, quiet spot.
CC Andrews isn’t far away, and offers several miles of off-road driving which is fully legal and signed accordingly for highway licensed vehicles. Since the DMV has been shut down, I haven’t gotten my off-road permit for some of the other trails, but on a few socially distanced drives, I’ve had plenty of fun with a couple of other folks:
Got mud all up inside the truck there - roll your windows up silly.
Otherwise, CC Andrews is just full of lovely driving. Close in, winding roads, elevation, rock, sand, I’ve definitely had to use 4WD several times, and the locker more than once. But, you end up at some lovely places.
The most recent place I went was Nemadji state forest - the DNR website finally showed it as open, so a buddy and I went. The forest roads in are nice and winding, and have a few minimum maintenance roads that are super tight - the truck has received a number of custom pinstripes... but, the link on the east end of the forest is the Gandy Dancer Trail, which is a super long trail that’s partially open to highway vehicles. It’s pretty much straight, but goes through some really gorgeous views. It’s an old railroad path that’s been removed, but the cut path stayed. We were treated to a nearly mid-May snowstorm as well...
So, that’s what I’ve been up to since I picked the truck up. Only modifications so far are a set of Bilstein 5100s in the rear (fronts are waiting till I have lift access again), a Builtright rear seat release, their stubby antenna, a set of yellow halogen fogs, and a set of LED headlight bulbs - the factory bulbs on this truck are absolute trash. The LEDs were a huge improvement, and have a great solid cutoff. And yes, I aimed them properly using the factory service manual.
Anyway, looking forward to more adventures, I’m thus far really happy to be using the truck to do actual truck stuff.