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October 2019 Member of the Month: monflores11

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

We'd like to congratulate monflores11 – Ramon for being selected as the October 2019 Member of the Month!


Hayden: Tell us a bit about yourself (Family/pets, work/school, hobbies/interests, location, etc.)

Ramon: First, I am humbled to be chosen as the Forum’s Member of the Month for October. When I received Hayden’s message, I was quite ambivalent if I’m deserving of this recognition. Hesitancy came immediately in my mind. After a second thought, my interest bit me - why not? I maybe able to share my story to the FJ community through this platform, and maybe further expand my network of friends I have high regard in the off-road/4x4 community. So please, accept my great appreciation.

About myself - I arrived here in the US from the Philippines in 2003. I now reside in Torrance, CA with my family. My wife Anne and I were gifted with two daughters - Bai Hannah, 21 years old, and Sabina, 8 years old. We had an opportunity to be together in the first FJ Summit I’ve attended in 2017. This was also our first time as a family to travel and drove long distance outside California.

DSC08335 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

I am currently the CAD/BIM Coordinator of a structural engineering firm based in Gardena, CA. I also do photography on the side. I love taking photos of people, places, and anything in between. You can view a sample of my photos of my FJ Cruiser in my PBase gallery: https://pbase.com/monflores/lakandula

I really enjoy off-roading and communing with nature. And while driving around unpaved roads, I enjoy listening to jazz, drink hot coffee in between stops, and I always look forward to an ice-cold beer at my destination!

27539963_10214087361511009_6540173709374079832_n by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: How did you come to own an FJ Cruiser? Is the FJ Cruiser your first off-road vehicle? If not, what was the first vehicle you took wheeling?


Ramon: Way back in the Philippines, I worked with the United Nations helping post-conflict communities. I’m into development and humanitarian work. Our service vehicle was a Land Cruiser 80 series. This vehicle took us to the remotest parts in rural Southern Philippines. Since then, my dream car is a Land Cruiser (LC).

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Unfortunately, the cost of the LC here in the US is way beyond my reach. We bought a 4Runner in 2003 instead and have been our family car up to the present. But I still dream of owning a capable 4x4 vehicle that I can drive and take me anywhere I want.

When I saw the model prototype FJ Cruiser in 2005 during the LA car show, I was determined that this is going to be my first off-road vehicle.

It was only in 2014 that I had a chance to purchase one when my daughter Hannah passed her driving test. We needed a new car. After doing my research, I have decided to buy the Ultimate Edition (UE), and I had to act fast, 2014 was the last production year of the FJ Cruiser in North America.

Only a few Toyota dealers had an UE within my area and they all sell fast. So when I saw one in Manhattan Beach, the rest is history. In July 5, 2014, I drove home my ‘compromised’ dream off-road vehicle, not a Land Cruiser but a 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Team Ultimate Edition. I then named my FJ Cruiser Lakandula.

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

FJTTUE by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: How/when were you first introduced to the forum and what made you decide to join?


Ramon: I’ve been with the T4R Forum doing my research and have been lurking the FJ Forum earlier. So when I got my FJ in July 2014, I immediately created my account. I consider the FJ Forum not only a repository of knowledge and technical information on off-roading in general and about the FJ Cruiser in particular, but also a community of diverse people with a common passion for off-road adventure. I owe to the Forum and to my network of FJ Cruiser friends my knowledge about my own FJ.

DSC08235 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


Hayden: What modification is your favorite or is the most worth the money/time/effort that you’d recommend it to someone else?

Ramon: I just want the basic protection I need since at the outset I have defined what I want to do with my FJ. It’s a balance of being my daily drive to work, and driving it off-road for adventure and fun. So the basics are rock sliders, underbody skids, and an upsized tires. I want my FJ to remain an Ultimate Edition, so I’m a little conservative when it comes to aggressively modifying it.

PB120094-2 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Later on, I also invested on a beefier rear LCA and UCA, and added a 2.5 lift kit maintaining my TRD Bilstein suspension.

I got my Bajarack installed from a Forum member. Friends who installed most of my mod parts are Forum members.


Hayden: What upgrade is your least favorite, or what modification would you do differently if you had to do it over again?


Ramon: So far, I like the modest modification I did to my rig. I have proven that they’ve served their purpose well in the trails I’ve run. I’m contemplating though to upsize my tires to 35’s and regear to 4.88. And if my current suspension gives up, I’m considering a full Kings/Total Chaos suspension package.

39257876_10215545622126613_1677876394916315136_o by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: What has been your favorite thing about owning an FJ Cruiser?


Ramon: Taking me to places with unpaved roads where others won’t dare go to. I also get complements from other people.

43487504_10215962653832145_1157392372288454656_o by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go-to resource for you?


Ramon: I subscribe to a number of build treads in the Forum. I need not mention names, but a lot of Forum members I follow, and have met in person, and became my friends, inspire me not only in terms of modifying and ensuring the proper maintenance of my rig, but much more so of the shared overall principle, values, decorum and ethics of loving our natural environment through responsible off-roading.

36661677_10215252901368777_8383687105645117440_n by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

P7180155 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?


Ramon: Here in SoCal, I’m active in the Adopt-A-Trail (AAT) Team doing trail maintenance in the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF). So, while doing trail maintenance work, we also get a chance to enjoy the trails in Big Bear, Hesperia, Apple Valley and their surrounding areas. There’s a menu of moderate to difficult trails in the SBNF.

IMG_9458 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

14713001_DAVID by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

In particular, I love the trails I’ve run in Moab and Colorado specifically Hell’s Revenge/Gate, Top of the Word, Imogene Pass, Black Bear Pass, and Poughkeepsie Gulch. I’m a bit frustrated though during the last FJ Summit with the closure of Sydney Basin.
IMG_4836 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

From Moab to Ouray by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


Hayden: Is there a trail/park/location you haven’t visited yet that you would like to take your FJ to someday?


Ramon: In my bucket list is John Bull & Dishpan trails in Big Bear, trails in Anza-Borrego, other trails in Moab, and Sydney Basin in Ouray. Rubicon maybe?

60505877_10217596085266910_2260399858630262784_n by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


 

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4-Corners Moderator
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Discussion Starter #2
Hayden:With unlimited funds, where would you travel with your FJ and/or do to your FJ?


Ramon: Supercharged Lakandula, go Long Travel in suspension set up, regear, install front locker, buy and modify a Land Cruiser, and bring both to the Philippines.

DSC_1324 by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


Hayden: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?


Ramon: My first successful climb of ‘The Wall’ in Poughkeepsie Gulch and Hell’s Gate in Moab. I owe my successful climb at Hell’s Gate to Jeff (Firemedic831) and Deb (devFJVT).

44819269_10216083026521387_8564264972631146496_o by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Here’s a video clip of my climb of ‘The Wall’.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WPKEtWDZ-P4?controls=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

68713634_10218251633295201_3557423103770361856_o by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


Hayden: What do you enjoy the most about the FJCrusierForums?


Ramon: I enjoy reading through New Posts in particular the ‘What Did You Do To/With Your FJ’, and the different technical and build threads I subscribe to. I love browsing through photos of members in their actual off-road adventures. But most of all, I enjoy the community that was built overtime, and meeting members in person and having fun together.

37020718_10215293919474204_5481061860985798656_n by Ramon Flores, on Flickr



Hayden: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you and what do you feel you contribute to the forum the most?


Ramon: The Forum is my FJ’s added tool box and library. Anything I want to do with my rig, I need to research, validate and confirm with the actual experiences of members through their posts. And in return, I try my best to share my ideas and opinions too to posts of members. In a little way, I have shared a few of the processes I have undergone in building Lakandula.

IMG_2416_DAVID by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: In a world without new FJ Cruisers being built, do you plan on keeping yours forever or upgrading to a newer model ever?


Ramon: I will keep my FJ forever and hand it down to my youngest daughter Sabina when she pass the driving test eight (8) years from now. Let’s see if there’s a 6th generation 4Runner coming. But I will still keep Lakandula.

Untitled by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Hayden: What do you expect to be in your FJs future build-wise/travel-wise/etc?


Ramon: Build-wise in the short term, front bumper/winch, and in the long term, new suspension and regear. And as to travel/adventure, bring my whole family again in next year’s FJ Summit. I also look forward to going to Moab before the Summit.

Colorado River Park by Ramon Flores, on Flickr


Hayden: What final advice do you have for someone new to the FJ Cruiser or the Forum?


Ramon: Browse, read, and comment objectively. Share your own experiences, network, and make friends. Engage forum members by asking questions and learn from them. And as to what you want to do with your FJ, know what your actual needs are based on your limitation and capability. And if you intend to modify your rig, define first your build plans comprehensively (not by piece meal) in the context of your overall purpose. And to put it simply – just enjoy your FJ!

46634198_10216261679707605_4190203405743947776_o by Ramon Flores, on Flickr

Thank you Hayden!

(photo credit to David, Samantha, & Doug)​
 

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Congratulations for sure. Great story and photos.

It's good to see some of the newer members here. You contribute greatly on the forum. As you stated, sharing ideas, posting pics from the trails, etc.
 

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Congratulations . Ramon I look forward to meeting your family this next year in Moab . You have one of the cleanest TTUE FJs and are up to try new Challenges . Its always a pleasure to see you and i hope to run many more trails with you .
 

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Congratulations from Oregon :smile (I guess the 'welcome' was uncalled for :grin)

Great story. I LOVE those pictures!
 

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Awesome! Congrats
 

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I’m so glad you accepted the honor and you definitely deserve it - congrats MOM!! :rocker::rocker: You and your family are a joy to know and to wheel with, and I greatly look forward to next year in Moab :blueblob: Your photos are not only spectacular, they also capture our events in a wonderful documentary, so thank you for that :smile
 
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