Building up the Bear

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Family adventure in the western united states

A new year and new adventures are upon us. 2014 was fantastic. We grew together as a family, traveled through a third of Western America, learned valuable lessons and added another member to my little army. There was a lot to be thankful for and a lot we will remember for many years to come.

Man walking through snow

I got to take my first big vacation in May when we all drove the 5000-something miles from San Diego around Yellowstone and back. This, so far, is one of the best things I’ve put together as a father. It was the perfect kick off to the type of family I imagine us becoming. You never really know what you’re going to become until time and effort mold you.

Walking through yosemite

I want the boys to learn about the outdoors and all the wonders nature holds. To be both self reliant and part of a close knit family. Being on the road together for a month and immersing ourselves in western US culture and outdoor life definitely left me feeling satisfied.

Giant statue in the desert

We followed up our spring trip with two fun and relaxing summer desert trips. One to La Casa Del Zorro in Anza Borrego and another to Calico, California. La Casa Del Zorro was something out of my typical comfort zone as all it asked of me was that I relax in its provided amenities. I did my best and put my competitive and active mind to rest for a weekend. It was strange, but actually enjoyable. On the other hand, Calico was more of a “find your pleasure” affair. We got to take the truck out and carve our own path to discovery as well as visit the mining ghost town. It’s amazing how much more you see when you slow down, breathe and look around. Even a seemingly barren desert can open up and become a whole new world (as long as you have water, that is…without water it’s just hell on earth).

Mother and son walking

Finally, we got to welcome Minion into the family. He was born ready for adventure, as he came out like a cannon ball. More specifically, the nurses didn’t listen to Chelsea when she said her “labors” progress rapidly. After telling her they would check back in an hour to see how she “progressed,” Minion hit the delivery room bed like a slippery bomb just twenty minutes later. Dashing back into the room, “I’ve only got one glove!” the nearest nurse shouted in a panicked shrill voice as she pleaded for assistance from her cohorts. Chelsea never even got a chance to push. Literally…he fell out. Either way, my third and final (short of a happy accident) son arrived to round out my adventure team.

Father pointing to mountains with son

And so my attention has been turned to the future. The places, spaces and faces to explore. Finally, after already having lifted my truck and fitting it with BF Goodrich All Terrain tires, it was time for me to address the third point of my adventure truck’s basic improvements. What I have come to learn so far is the importance of the three Ts. TRACTION, TRAVEL and TURNING.

Front desk of discount tire

Traction had been addressed when we added the BF Goodrich tires. Like I’ve said in other posts, their tread is like putting cleats on your truck when driving in dirt and mud. We took care of Travelwhen we put the 6″ Pro Comp lift on the truck. This allowed us to get over much rougher terrain without suffering as a family on the inside of our truck. Washboard roads no longer shook everyone in the car like we were sitting in a paint shaker. With the lift and tires being put on at the same time, we were able to put on a larger tire than the truck could have otherwise handled. However, what I did not foresee as an issue was the stock wheel (the metal part) was not made for larger tires. Whenever I turned the truck’s wheels all the way, they would rub the inside of the fender and the reservoir of the suspension. This was both annoying and also risked ruining the new suspension parts.

Chelsea standing in front of discount tire

This was something I needed to fix quick. I also wanted to switch to a black wheel as I preferred the look to chrome. I went to the one place I trusted to solve my problem: Discount Tire. There are a lot of wheels you can get out there, and they vary greatly. Discount Tire helped point me in the direction of the MB Wheels “TKO” model. It happens to be one of their in-house brands and beats a lot of other wheels in price by anywhere from $50-$120 per wheel. So, instead of possibly spending more than $1000 on wheels alone, I made it out with a really nice set for what you’d pay only $650 for. I simply let Discount Tire know what my problem was and they recommended the solution.

These new wheels have a “zero offset” which means they set out of my wheel well more, allowing the tire more space to move when I turn. This also gives my truck a wider stance, which eases my mind when turning a lifted truck at speed. And the matte black finish makes my truck go faster. Well, no, but I think it’s HOT!

Truck driving through mud

Slowly but surely, “The Bear” is coming together (temporary name for our adventure truck…unless it sticks). Next up, I’m looking forward to a trip to Bend, Oregon to pick up a rooftop tent to mount on top of our trailer. This should allow for expeditious deployments of our camping situations during trips. After doing some research, we settled on Cascadia Vehicle Tents (CVT) Mt. McKinley model as it’s the largest on the market, and CVT sells the awning with the tent automatically. We’ll go more into depth on that in a future post. Later in the year, we’re already slotted to head off to Arizona and Utah and then Idaho in the winter.

Truck against country backdrop

All in all, 2015 is shaping up to be a pretty good year.


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