With a shared love for spontaneous adventure and armed with a camera each, Patrick John and Chloe O’Doherty are newlyweds currently traversing the United States in a 1995 Chevy campervan dubbed ‘Dora’.
Chloe’s background is as an art director for an advertising agency in Johannesburg, while Patrick worked in sales and marketing at an engineering firm. After leaving their day jobs, the pair travelled over 34 000 kms through 6 African countries – the first leg of what is to become a journey around the world.
Since arriving in the US in May, Chloe and Patrick have made their way from Michigan to California, blogging about their experiences on their tumblr Out The Office.
In a quick Q&A, we learn a bit more about the trip so far:
After travelling quite extensively across Africa, how did the idea to take a trip across America come about?
After travelling through 6 African countries in 7 months and doing over 34 000 kms on dirt roads in our Land Cruiser, we wanted our veins to course with processed cheese, to feel the weak northern sun on our faces and to see toilets swirl the other way round.
Tell us about the experience so far. What have the highlights been?
Whilst standing in the queue at Burger King in Grand Rapids, Michigan, an old lady approached us and asked us if we came here often. Um, yeah, sometimes. She proceeded to hand us a neatly cut out sheet of Burger King Coupons from the Sunday paper. We’re still using those coupons… Buy one Whopper, get one free that sort of thing.
And the challenges?
Burger King. No, really. Crap food is so accessible and cheap. You can understand why Americans suffer from obesity.
Are you following a specific route?
We’re following an ancient fur-trading route. Not actually! We knew we wanted to see as many national parks and state forests as possible. We pull out the map each morning and say where we’re going, but sometimes we get distracted by Salvation Army super stores or buffalo burgers. We also talk to Americans and they usually tell us the highlights of their area and we’ve found some great spots like that.
Like right now we are in Montana and we stopped at a duvet shop called 3 dog night, because it’s a cool name and concept. Once inside we got dragged into this tiny “theatre”, a corner of the shop draped in curtains and covered with pictures and knick-knacks. It’s the owner and he wants to play us a folk song on his accordion and it won’t take longer than three minutes. It’s a beautiful song about the closing of a fairground because copper prospectors believed there to be copper beneath the rides. They demolished it, but they never did find any copper. It’s a true story so we sat there listening with watery eyes. Afterwards, he pointed us to a few amazing spots near Glacier National Park on the border of Canada.
What have you learned or come to realise on the journey so far?
That all who wander are not lost, unless you’re us with a malfunctioning GPS.
When will you return to South Africa, and what are your plans after that?
We still don’t know what we want to be when we grow up. We’re both creative people and hopefully there’s something in our future that allows us to be.