Whenever I go back to Texas I feel the need to get a car that seems impressively Texan. Last time it was a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 which, with its mix of German and American might, found a place deep in this Texas heart.
This time, I'm returning to the place one state supreme court justice called "God's Country" in order to welcome a new niece to the world. Only something as robust as a Ford F-250 King Ranch Edition would do. I've got nothing to haul and no trailer to pull, but that doesn't mean I can't use a big diesel engine to go pick up lunch or visit my financial planner.
Just like daily driving a sports car, it's about the possibilities as much as the practice.
Picking up the monster truck at the airport I remember, of course, the immediate challenge of driving such a vehicle. It's as long as one of Colt McCoy's spirals, about as wide as three Earl Campbells linked together, and about as tall as the tales I spin about that time I got punched by a USC fan at Disney World (true story).
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But Ford is ready for this. There's a nice little button that pulls in the massive mirrors so you can sneak between parking barriers, toll booths, and other people's equally ginormous trucks. It's just like driving a Prius, if the sound of your Prius caused deer to scatter.
Sure, you can go and get barbecue in your Toyota Camry. A lot of good Christian people drive Toyota Camrys. No one, of course, will look twice at your Toyota Camry when you pull into Rudy's Country BBQ Store to pick some up.
There's something prideful about the stares and nods you get in a truck like this. Pride may be a deadly sin if you live in Delaware, but God himself granted Texans an exception on account of them being half as slothful as the average human. We get shit done, no sense in denying it.
A little note about Rudy's. I'd say it's the best place in Texas to get BBQ where you can also get all three grades of gasoline. This I can say because I'm safely back in Virginia. In Texas, debates over the tastiest barbecue are the #3 cause of shooting deaths after blown little league calls and, of course, the company of loose women.
Does it suck gas? No. That's a common misconception of trucks like this. It sucks diesel. Lots of it. The tank on the F-250 has roughly the same displacement as the Alamo Dome. If you're doing really well you can get a full 17 MPG, which isn't bad, but you're going to be eating a lot of BBQ.
The advantage, though, is that when you're stuck in traffic you don't have to wonder what's happening ahead. No GPS needed. In this truck you sit up high enough to see what's going on a full three counties away.
There's also plenty of room for five full-sized adults, with my family happily and easily squeezing into the back without a complaint. No yoga skills are necessary to ride bitch in one of these.
Did I mention the cupholders? Four in the front console: two for drinks, one for your spitting cup, and one for sunflower seeds. Lockable storage is a must, otherwise where are you going to put your handgun?
My friend's dad best summed it up in a conversation we had about car ownership.
"No, I can't see myself ever owning a car ageen," he said in his Central Texas dialect. "It just ain't practical. What if I need to haul wood or tow a boat?"
This, of course, from a man I remember driving around in a hilariously undersized Daihatsu Charade for my childhood. I can see why he might yearn for space.
I have to agree, though, with his sentiment. Some people drive trucks because it's a status symbol in Texas. They don't need the space, they just need the attention that comes from owning a vehicle roughly the size of Rhode Island. It's why they make "Platinum" F-150s.
Yet, I can't help but feel there's something else at work here, too. I don't know if my friend's dad has a boat or, even, a pressing need to move large amounts of firewood. I assume he doesn't.
What's happening here is something deeply psychological. A fear that, at any moment, someone's fixing to come up to you with piles of wood that need to be hauled off and you'll be sitting there, looking at your Camry, unable to help.
It's perhaps, why, we have an entire month dedicated to trucks. It's called, of course, "Truck Month" (pronounced: truuuuuck muuuhnth) and it seems to come around three times a year.
If Texans hate anything (besides Oklahomans) it's being unprepared.