THE RUZICKA FAMILY: @FAMILY_ADVENTURES_OVERLANDING

By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 1/15/18

For the sixtieth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are thrilled to speak with the Jeremy Ruzicka and his family. You may know them as @family_adventures_overlanding.

As you may have noticed from past interviews, I like to provide all kinds of looks into the lives and people who make up the overlanding community. We have featured everyone from the most savage off-roaders bound for Patagonia the hard way, to the full time Airstreamer’s, who make their life on the road with all the amenities of home. The focus today is a family who love to spend time together and travel off the beaten track, appreciating the outdoors, and their trusty Land Cruiser as their home away from home.

I discovered the Ruzicka clan (Jeremy, Jennifer, Bailey, and Hadley. And of course Fiona the dog) though Instagram. You can view their account here. You can also check out their Facebook page and their YouTube channel for additional goodies.

However, you will really enjoy their personal webpage, familyadventuresoverlanding.com. It has loads of information that help you navigate all of the social media and offers additional material as well. It has a great photo gallery, recipes, gear reviews, and much more.

They are great reminders of the bond that the outdoors and overlanding can create.

Check out their interview and photo’s below.

What do you consider to be your place of work?

I’m a Mercedes Benz Technician. Still working a full time job. My wife Jennifer, is a stay at home Mom that spend the majority of her time, while the kids are in school, keeping up on our website and social media. She is also the one who finds a lot of the amazing places we visit and works out the trip planning.

Tell me about your vehicle. What do you call it? 

1993 Toyota Land Cruiser. “The Cruiser”

What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?

We’ve had a multitude of 4×4’s over the years including an Xterra, Avalanche, Jeep XJ and Durango. We decided we needed something large enough to hold all of our gear and be comfortable. We also decided to buy a rig with a solid front axle. The JKU was high on the list, but it doesn’t have the room we require.

Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?

I think the only thing that hasn’t been touched is the transmission! Resealed everything on the power train and drivetrain. Old Man Emu 2.5-3” lift with heavy duty spring and Nitrocharged shocks. 35” Toyo AT2 Extreme tires. Single din Bluetooth radio with cobra CB mounted under radio in stock dual din radio location. Wagon Gear AM/FM/CB radio antenna mod with splitter and 4’ Firestick antenna. 4” monitor, connected to rear view camera, mounted above rear view mirror. Dual Battery with Bluesea SI-ACR cut off relay. Toyota Tundra 130a alternator upgrade. 80watt solar panel on hood with 10a PWM charge controller. 2000watt inverter. Homemade storage box system in rear with drawers for kitchen/dry food and clothing. TemboTusk large fridge slide with Snomaster Expedition Series 82d dual zone fridge freezer. Custom built onboard water feeding from a 5 gallon Scepter Jerry can to a flow jet pump with a quick disconnect hose. Blue Ridge Overland Gear “Gear Attic”. Trail Gear front tube bumper with Auxbeam LED lighting. Superwinch EPI 9.0 winch with blue Amsteel synthetic line from Blue Ridge Overland Gear. Factor 55 flat link and Smittybuilt hawse. Homemade rear bumper with single swing out. Swing out has mounts for shovel, Jerry cans and spare tire. Also has a full length drop down table made with food grade plastic cutting-boards. Gamiviti stealth roof rack with upgrades mounts. Passenger mount Rhino-rack Foxwing awning and Freespirit Recreation Rooftop Tent.

What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle?  

Being together as a family

What is your least favorite part about it?

Lack of hard shelter during times of inclement weather. We are solely limited to our vehicle interior, RTT and our Foxwing awning. We have been in some very trying situations that would have been better if we were traveling in a van or RV. But that’s kinda part of the adventure, isn’t it!

How many miles have you put on your vehicle? 

30k in a year

What is the best place you have taken it? 

Bridgeport, NE stands out in my mind, but not because it was difficult to get to. It was a turning point for our adventure this last summer.

Is there just one? 

No

Favorite road you’ve driven? 

Any that we haven’t traveled beforehand. Each has its own challenges and payoffs.

In one word, what describes your approach to life? 

Family

If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living from a vehicle, what would you tell them?

Simplicity

It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?

We have always felt that way. It’s something we try to instill in our children every day. Rarely do we ever pick a destination and set a schedule. Once you do that, it changes the entire dynamic. You then become more focused on the end point and time as opposed to where you’re at and the present. That was a lesson we definitely learned in Bridgeport, NE. That’s why it holds so much meaning to us.

You have found a strong place in the community of travelers. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?

Let’s be honest, you’re a product of your surroundings. Everything you are is affected by them. We grew up in the Midwest and both spent a lot of time with our families outdoors. Those times were the cornerstones that we are built upon today.

I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?

We don’t live out of our vehicle full time, yet.. But everyone has to have goals! Is it difficult to get over the mental block of taking the leap? Yes, we discuss it almost daily. Do people already think we’re crazy for being on the road as much as we are already? Yes they do. It’s something we are continually working toward. Even if we never make it to that point, it’s about the journey, right? For us that means more than running down some remote road, it means the journey and discovery within oneself.

Where do you want to go next?

We would love to achieve our goal of traveling full time. But in the meantime, we’ll just close our eyes, point to a place on a map & enjoy our journey in that general direction. After all, it’s all about the journey and we’re fortunate enough to experience it with our children.

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