As planned, some friends and I went on a mini-vacation to the greater Nashville area (more on that later) and combined the trip with some truck shopping. Both parts of the plan were a success.
Having prioritized my saved links, we went to check out the first truck on the list (which was the most appealing option). It was everything the listing claimed, spotless underneath (those of us who live in the salted lands understand), and a fair-for-the-asinine-used-truck-market price, so I bought it.
It is everything I was looking for: single cab, short bed, 4x4, zero rust, maintained (single owner, dealer maintained, was a company truck of some sort, has corner strobes), has a/c and cruise control, and I could afford it. It has some miles (179k) but for a work truck of such age is in good shape. The steering wheel is a bit sun damaged but the interior is otherwise pretty good (and basic! crank windows!), there's a spray-in bedliner and toolbox in the back as well.
The only missing nicety is that it is the 3.7 and not the 5.0, but at least it isn't an early ecoboost (concerning) or a 3-valve 5.4 (even more concerning). Having driven 500 miles home, the V6 is definitely adequate (and gets decent mileage), so I am very satisfied. No signs of issues with the waterpump that these can develop. The six-speed automatic is a six speed automatic and always wants to be in one-too-high of a gear, but that's how anything is. It kicks down if you ask it to; foot on the floor it revs to seven thousand RPM. In a truck.
The chrome hubcaps, smoker vents on the windows, and questionably-legal-here tint are on the short list to address (aka remove). Otherwise, it doesn't really need anything beyond a normal new-to-me round of fluids and filters and a couple stone chips touched up before they rust.
The trip overall was also excellent, I'll post more about the two main Oppo-interesting places visited later.