When Justin Corry and Beth Caton graduate from their respective schools this summer, they will hook up a Teardrop trailer to their Jeep Wrangler, hop in with their two dogs, and take off on a long road trip. However, theirs is no ordinary journey.
They’ve already traveled all over the continental United States, seeking remote and scenic locations. Now they’re ready to tackle the whole continent. If everything goes according to plan, Corry and Caton will drive up through Canada to Alaska and all the way back down the coast until they get to Argentina.
Corry, 30, studies filmmaking at Washtenaw Community College. He is also a barber and business owner. Caton, 29, is getting her Master’s degree in Arabic from the University of Michigan. The couple live in Dexter with their dogs, Trigger and Judah.
For the past 18 months, Corry and Caton have been preparing to leave everything behind. They’ve been living frugally to save money, looking for insurance suited to their needs, and stocking up on parts for the car and gear for themselves. Six of the 18 months were spent designing and custom building their trailer. Corry is in the process of selling his business.
“(Traveling) was something we felt really inspired to do,” Caton said. “It started with wanting to live simply.”
Corry added, “We’re trying to breakout of the monotony of working our lives away and living outside of that expectation.”
Caton and Corry have enough money for the first 13 months. During that time, they will be working to build a brand out of their travels called Teardrop Trekkers. The name is inspired by the type of the trailer. Corry will use his filming experience to document the trip professionally in hopes of drawing attention from people and manufacturers alike; in the long run, the expedition will depend on followers, sponsorships and endorsements from various companies.
Matt Zacharias teaches digital media arts at WCC and has more than 10 years of experience as an editor and producer for the Public Broadcasting Service. He is currently mentoring Corry through an independent study, and helping the Teardrop Trekkers prepare to launch their website.
“(Corry’s) plans surfaced in a documentary class last semester,” Zacharias said. “Everyone was really intrigued. The (marketing) is a great idea. What they’re doing is so unique and it takes a lot of guts.”
On the road
Caton and Corry travel for the sake of traveling.
“We like to get an early start in the morning,” Corry said. “Get up, feed the dogs, cook breakfast, get the camp and ourselves cleaned up for the day and head out of camp with a destination, but no real route.”
Although a lot of their time is spent driving from one campsite to the next, they enjoy going out of their way to explore the landscape around them. The element of spontaneity is something they cherish. Guided by paper maps and gazetteers, they can travel down roads not marked on GPS.
“In the past, we’ve come across things like abandoned towns and cemeteries, mines and caves, incredible views, and wildlife, like elk, mountain goats, bears and whales,” Corry said.
At the end of a long day on the road, the couple follow a familiar routine as they set up camp and cook dinner. They hope that this upcoming journey will afford them more time to relax and enjoy their campsites.
The trailer will make life more comfortable. It has a kitchen, shower, and hot water — the Trekkers are particularly happy about the kitchen.
“It will make our trip so much nicer to have a clean kitchen with a stove and fridge instead of living out of a cooler with a camp stove,” Corry said. “Healthy living is important to us, so we want to cook most meals and not get into the habit of unhealthy eating on the road.”
Media reports of violence in Mexico and Central America have not deterred the Trekkers.
“We’re definitely paying attention to the security situations, but we don’t want to plan travel around fear,” Caton said.
“We’re not going to entertain the idea that something bad may happen,” Corry explained. “We believe that people are generally good in the world. I’ve done a lot of research about other people that have taken similar trips and everyone says the world is nothing to be afraid of. I think that as Americans, we’ve both been fooled into believing that we’d be unsafe traveling abroad for whatever reason.”
Caton discovered that fear of traveling abroad is a two-sided coin. Her peers from other countries told her that their families had been concerned about their safety in the U.S. They believed that America is a place of “violence, sex, and drugs.” In the same way that those fears were assuaged for her peers, Caton believes she will find the world south of the border to hold the same promise.
Caton and Corry will take precautions, like allowing their location to be tracked via GPS at all times, but to them, their dreams are worth the risks.
“We’re hoping to inspire people to live their own dreams and step outside of their comfort zones,” Caton said. “I’m excited to simply live life.”
“When our children say, ‘I want to do this,’ I want to be able to look at them and say, ‘Make it happen, because nothing’s impossible. I spent three years traveling the world in a jeep’,” Corry said.