Most magazine editors find it hard to break away from work for two weeks at a stretch. Karen Catchpole, Shop Etc.'s deputy editor, is skipping town for the next two years - longer, if she's having fun. Catchpole and her husband, photographer Eric Mohl, are embarking on a 70,000-mile road trip through North, Central and South America. "There is no route, there is no itinerary," said Catchpole, reached on her second-to-last day on the job. "We don't believe in those things. We're going to be going where there's a story, where the weather's good, where there's a music festival."
Their first stop, in fact, will be in New Orleans, for the city's annual jazz festival. From there, it will up to Alaska and then...who knows? Those who care to can track the pair's progress on their Web site, trans-americas.com. "The route's going to look a little bit like a plate of spaghetti," said Catchpole. "Don't expect any straight lines."
Catchpole and Mohl have experience at this sort of thing, having toured Southeast Asia from 1995 to 1999. The new voyage has been in the works for more than two years, since Catchpole was a senior editor at Jane. While the pair will freelance for a number of magazines to cover their costs, they also have secured sponsorship from Chevrolet, which has given them a Silverado pickup truck. From the sounds of things, Chevy couldn't have picked a better spokescouple. "The Silverado is one of the most trustworthy, unbreakable vehicles out there, and we're really going to be putting that to the test," said Catchpole. "Central and South America? Not known for [their] good highways."
Listening to Catchpole outline her plans is enough to make any adventure junkie jealous. "We'll be spending a lot of time hiking, kayaking, biking, scuba diving," she said. "If you get wet, sweaty, hot or dirty we'll be doing it." In fact, inspiring people to quit their jobs and take to the road themselves is part of their goal, she said. "It really is so much easier than people think it is. But you have to be unencumbered. You've got to agree that you're not going to have a lot of responsibilities or own a lot of crap." Unless, presumably, you found that crap by reading Shop Etc.
- by Jeff Bercovici