The Monsoon Season Hits St. Louis…

Yes, the rains have come to the “Lou”. It sure beats mid-90s heat with high humidity…though I’m prepared, now that the air in my truck got a recharge and is blowing cool again.

So last week, the wife and I had some trouble figuring out what to do for breakfast. It was so nice Sunday morning we thought it’d be great to go out, but where was the problem.

The last time we were in Maplewood, we decided to try out a new coffee shop, Foundation Grounds, but since we’d never been, and yours truly was quite hungry, we decided to start off at Schlafly Bottleworks for a breakfast made from local ingredients, including Match meat alternatives, local produce, and even locally grown, free-range bison!

After a most-satisfying breakfast (I had the biscuits and sausage gravy made with Match sausage) we decided to head to Foundation Grounds and are we ever glad we did!

As a coffee shop, Foundation Grounds has a lot to offer coffee-wise, including cappuccino, espresso and other coffee-based drinks, as well as free wi-fi, live music and even a few books lying around.

We were happily surprised with their menu of in-house baked goods and sandwiches, including paninis, quesadillas, salads and much more. We each had a “little” bite…I had a quite large Russian tea cake and the wife had a coconut chocolate cookie thing. Both were scrumpdili-icious!

They also had a good choice of infused tea and lemonade. The wife had the mango-infused tea, which was superior to the one served at Schlafly (sorry Schlafly peeps…). I had the honey/lavender-infused lemonade which was delicious and truly quenched my thirst.

The most interesting thing about our drinks, aside from their deliciousness, was the cups. They were corn cups…biodegradable and even compostable! Too cool!!

So, yes, we will definitely be back to Foundation Grounds. It was a great place with a great atmosphere and friendly, knowledgeable staffers. What more could you ask for?? (Except maybe joining St. Louis Originals…)

To keep the original intent of this blog intact…here’s a “classic” review:

2001 Ford F150 King Ranch

King Of The (Luxury Pickup) Hill

by James E. Bryson

Over the years, the automotive industry has worked closely with designers in different industries to define new ways of presenting the automobile. In fact, before World War II, most luxury brands were one-off autos with signature names from the people that helped design them.

Today, those signature vehicles are almost a thing of the past. In the 1970s, fashion designers like Bill Blass and Cartier had the privilege to help make something different with a few cars but with the oil crises during that time, the automakers had to invest in other areas.

Ford Motor Company is continuing a long tradition of making specialty models with famous names like Eddie Bauer and more recently Harley Davidson. The company has now paired up with the largest livestock ranch in the U.S. to bring us the 2001 King Ranch F150 SuperCrew.

Ford produces the most trucks of any other automaker. In fact, the top selling vehicle of any sort is the F150.

With the freedom to create something special, without the constraints of high volume sales looming over the designer’s heads, Ford has made the King Ranch a stand-alone product, with many features not found on other Ford trucks.

The King Ranch is based on the F150 SuperCrew, which is a light duty pickup with four full-size doors and a full back seat. The truck has a shortened bed to accommodate the extra cabin space and keep within the length of an extended cab truck. To make the most of this space, Ford has designed a bed extender for these trucks. It is a u-shaped device that pivots on two points placed on either side of the bed walls. With the tubular steel extender in place, the King Ranch is still capable of easily handling most chores.

We were definitely impressed with the height of this rig. It’s not as big as a three-quarter-ton dually, but its got an attitude, replete with honeycomb grill that has a touch of snarl and the large tires that make it look able to run over most cars. Using the running boards to get in is almost mandatory for any rider. And standing tall is easy for this 4X4 because it is shod with P265/60R all-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch chromed steel wheels with body-colored inserts, which are exclusive to the King Ranch.

The interior is swathed in natural-looking leather and cream-colored carpeting and plastics. It is a very soothing, comfortable place. Perhaps because the King Ranch has been making saddles longer than Ford has been making trucks.

There is intricate stitching and embroidery in the seating surfaces, with the King Ranch symbol, two offsetting squiggly lines that resemble a bull’s horns, or a long snake, in the headrests.

The rear seat in a carbon copy of the front: two captain’s chairs and large center console. They are large and supportive and coddle the sitter. The seats are comfortable enough for long drives without worry of a sore back. The only difference between the front and rear seats is the lack of power adjustment on the rears.

The only thing really missing from the interior is wood trim, which would have really set this truck apart and would have made more sense with the whole upscale western theme.

The basic SuperCrew cabin is quite large and lends a comfortable, airy atmosphere to the King Ranch. The power moonroof was a welcome addition. That, coupled with the four large windows and the sliding rear window, allowed a large amount of air to enter the cabin. It is the closest thing to a convertible truck Ford has. Is you don’t like the heat that much, the air conditioning worked well, cooling us off in the 90-plus degree heat we’ve seen in the St. Louis area this year.

The only cabin detail we would we would have changed would be a power option for the sliding rear window. It was impossible to reach form the front seats unless you got up out of the seat and turned around to reach the catch.

A little history about the King Ranch: It sprawls over 1300 square miles of south Texas and is generally regarded as the birthplace of American ranching. It was founded in 1853 by a steamboat captain named Richard King. He found the land traveling north to Corpus Christi to attend the Lone Star Fair. He discovered an oasis of lush trees and fresh water at Santa Gertrudis Creek and decided he should establish a livestock operation there. Over the next seven generations, the ranch has grown and adapted to the technology of the time as well as weathered many droughts, floods, hurricanes, disease and predators to become the leader of the ranching industry.

The story of Ford and his car company is not much different, though there haven’t been many hurricanes in Michigan reported in the last few centuries. Henry Ford started producing cars in the early 1900s and automated the assembly line in the teens, making it possible for his workers to own the product they were making because automation helped lower the cost of that first car: the Model T.

Ford has been a pioneer in the auto industry and, with the teaming of these two powerhouses, we are seeing a substantial new idiom in the pickup truck world.

With luxury and comfort, amenities previously not thought of for trucks, Ford has placed itself at the forefront of a new genre of luxury vehicles and has taken the lead against its closest competitors, namely GMS and Cadillac. The King Ranch F150 SuperCrew is the king of the luxury pickup hill…for now.

The King Ranch package is still being offered, and you can even get it on Super Duty’s as well!

And let’s not forget the car of the day:

ford_taurus (2)



This is the 2010 Ford Taurus.




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Ford is definitely making great-looking cars.




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The best part is they are bringing back the SHO.




Taurus should be available now.


Published by

James E. Bryson

Cars make the world go 'round!

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