Up it goes…the 4Runner gets a new lift.

Hi again, it’s been along time since I wrote about anything vehicle related. I took a break to enjoy other life experiences.  However, I’m a man and love vehicles so I thought I’d share one of my latest adventures with my 4Runner. This adventure happened right here in my own garage.

I bought my 2010 Toyota Trail Edition 4Runner with only 18K miles on the odometer a few years ago. Shortly after I purchased it, I headed to Ouray Colorado where I spent two weeks as an alpine host. What a fun job!! Other road trips in included a few excursions to North Carolina. I just love the balance of on road comfort and off road capability.

I bought the Trail Edition because I wanted to spend more time exploring rather than in the garage working on the truck. The trail has all the necessary toys such as locking rear differential, active track, crawl control and the like. The previous owner added things like rock sliders and over sized all terrain tires. As soon as I saw it, I loved it!!

I always said it only needed one thing; a mild lift kit. It just sat too low and the clearance under the front wasn’t as good as my previous 4Runners. While I had zero problems going anywhere, I just knew it would be more capable and look better.

After several years and the odometer  now turning 64K, it was time for a new suspension.

So I did what I always do; research!! And research, and research, and research. I think I literally read every post on the Toyota-4unner.org website!  Finally it was time to purchase and wanted to speak to a live person. I wanted to speak to someone to confirm I was on the right track. I made the call to Toytec, whom I bought the lift for my 98 4Runner years ago. Reading online is great, but talking to a live person who could answer all of my crazy questions was really fun!  I’m really glad I did, because they suggested a different rear spring and shock combo to ensure a smoother ride.

I purchased Bilstein 6112 set on the 4th notch and Toytec superflex coils with matching Toytec Boss shocks. Since the Toytec coils are only 10% stiffer than stock, they said this is a much smoother ride, especially with their longer, matching shocks.

Then came the time to install the lift. This was my 3rd time installing a lift on a 4Runner and by far the hardest. Let’s just say KDSS (kinetic dynamic suspension system) is awesome both on/off road. However when it came to install the lift, it was truly a 4 letter word!! Starting at 10am and taking breaks along the way, I single handedly finished the install around 8:30pm. At times I used every appendage possible(hands, feet, elbows) to get everything lined up so I could bolt it together.

When I stepped back and looked at it fully together, I really liked the stance of the 2.5 inch lift. Now came the fun part; did I measure accurately enough to get out of the garage! Thank fully, I did and headed out for a ride. Instantly I noticed that it soaked up the bumps much better and overall was much smoother.

A few weeks later and many miles, I still love it. It rides so much better. Bumps are still felt, but they’re less intrusive. And the big ones are absorbed so much better. Heading down a washboard road at 35mph was easy and just cruised right along without rattling the truck to death. Tires play a big part in the ride and I’m running 275/70/17 Cooper STs which have about 50K on them and are running 40psi.

My ground to fender measurements are as follows:  front 37 inches, rear 38.5 inches so it still has the factory rake which I wanted to keep. I like it higher in the back so it’ll sit level when loaded.

Aside from riding smoother, one of the best parts is the 4runner now looks like a Trail Edition. It’s sits high enough to be more capable, fits in all the parking garages, and most importantly….friends can still easily climb in.

Now I’m ready to go hit the trails looking for great photos and maybe an occasional T-Rex.

Here’s the before and after photos:






















Meals on Wheels; more than just a meal

Wow, the last year flew by and I didn’t do much traveling. Completed a lot of necessary and some unexpected life changes. Now I’m looking forward to getting back out there:)

This next video isn’t much about traveling as it is about the tremendous positive impact a local organization makes on the community. I had so much fun making new friends and being fully immersed in it all. The ride along was truly powerful. Here’s the short video I wrote, filmed, and produced.

Meals on Wheels; more than just a meal

A curious fish meets a curious snorkeler

This is one of my first times snorkeling in open water for any length of time and I loved it! This fish swam right up to me and seemed as curious about me as I about it. What fun it is to discover a whole new beautiful world!
Thank you:)

My favorite local trip; river to the ocean

This is one of those local trips that’s a lot of fun because it’s not just kayaking. I begin on the river and kayak for about 30 minutes, then kayak through a narrow channel that takes me to a barrier island. From here, I walk across the island which is more like a jungle, and end up on the beach. Since the beach is only accessible by boat, its usually very serene.
Here’s a quick video of the scenery. Sometimes great places are close to home. Enjoy!

Early Morning Still Water

I love early mornings and watching the world come alive. Early mornings are when the water near the house is often the quietest and most reflective, much like me. I love to see the reflections of the sky, clouds, birds as they drift over, and just feel the peace of it all.

Here are a photo and a video of the area, enjoy!!


Short ride on the Ocean to Lake Trail

What a beautiful day! The cloudless deep blue sky and gentle breeze made it a perfect day to get outside.
Aside from just getting outside anywhere, today’s goal was to explore the section of the Ocean to Lake Trail that leaves from Riverbend Park in Jupiter Florida. I knew it was a hiking trail, but rumors had it there was a section open to bikes.

Starting in Riverbend Park, I followed the trail that goes under the bridge for Indiantown Rd. The Ocean to Lake Trail begins on the north side of Indiantown road. I sunk into the mud and spun my way out as I went through the trail entrance. This is going to be my kind of trail:) I had heard reports of this trail being very wet and at times deep. Fine by me; if you’re not getting dirty you’re not having any fun!

Today, the most mud was right there at the entrance. The trail splits right after the entrance; one section goes straight and the other goes right. The straight trail connects with the same one the right fork does; it’s just a straight line. The right fork meanders through the trees and is narrow but an easy, smooth ride. It’s hard packed and in one short spot there are some big roots, but that is the toughest part of the trail.
The right fork leads into the main trail which at times is a two track dirt road
so you can ride smoothly and gain some speed if you’d like.

Further down the trail narrows again and enters a stretch of sugar sand. Thanks to the previous day’s rain, it was an easy peddle through this short stretch. There is a restroom here, aka outhouse and a short trail that leads to the Loxahatchee River and the famous dam. You can watch kayakers and canoers attempt to go up/down this small dam. Today the river was really clear and looked inviting but I wasn’t prepared to jump in. Maybe next time.

The trail continues and at times is very narrow and often I just ducked and went through the vegetation. Another reason to wear a helmet! Fortunately nothing was big enough to knock me off the bike either.
The trail ends up at a fence that borders noisy interstate 95. If you go left from here the trail dead ends into the river. Going right it follows the highway and then turns back toward the entrance. I thought for sure there was a path under the bridge of the interstate and to the other side. I’ll have to review some maps and see if I missed a turn.

Either way it is only about a two mile ride that, with a couple of exceptions, is very easy and would be fun for any ability.
It was a great day to be out and I enjoyed being in the forest again and feeling the fresh air. There’s nothing like a walk/ride in the woods to nurture the soul.

For more information:

Grandfather Mountain

The name Grandfather Mountain may sound old, but the area is vibrant with a variety of experiences. The fun begins immediately as visitors receive an auto tour cd upon entering the park. Pop in the cd and immediately, you’re immersed in the history that appears at every turn.

With a movie highlighting the area, restaurant, fudge shop, and animal encounters, the first visitor center has plenty to do. My favorites were the animals and animal feedings. If you get a chance, definitely check out the bear feeding which provides an opportunity to view the black bears up close and yet safely.

The drive up to the next visitor center via the narrow, winding road, is not for the faint of heart, but provides stunning views along the way. For those wishing to forego the final steep ascent to the visitor center, there is a lower parking lot with a short, scenic hiking trail that leads to the visitor center.

The second visitor center at the top of the mountain is less commercial, but provides more outdoor activities via hiking trails, the mile high suspension bridge (mile high in elevation, not from the ground), and plenty of unencumbered views.

One day was hardly enough to scratch the surface. I could see easily spending more time fully exploring the area. For all the pertinent details go here: www.grandfather.com

Scenes from the waterfall at La Fortuna, Costa Rica

The waterfall located just outside of La Fortuna Costa Rica is an easy side trip to add to your agenda. The steep path takes visitors through lush jungle terrain whose thick foliage blocks out the sun. The first views of the waterfall are reminiscent of a scene from a movie: white water thundering down a tall, lush mountain and splashing into an emerald pool creating tons of white spray.

As you look to the right of the falls, you’ll notice a lot of little black dots and hear strange noises. Those are Swifts, birds who inhabit the area of the falls. There is plenty of access to the falls, pools, and the stream providing visitors plenty of opportunities for photos or to soak in the cool water.

The walk down is steep and however, going backup feels even steeper. The slow ascent gives you ample time to admire the diverse foliage and possibly observe some wildlife. If you find yourself in La Fortuna and want a quick, fun sight seeing adventure, consider the picturesque waterfall.

For more information: http://www.arenal.net/la-fortuna-waterfall-costa-rica.htm