A Seussian journey in ‘Thyme’

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Max Miller of Roslyn in the trailer he renovated with his father David. The 21-year-old plans to drive the trailer across the American southwest over the summer. (Photo by Rose Weldon)

The Fleetwood Wilderness travel trailer is 27 feet long, covered in Dr. Seuss-inspired artwork on the outside, and decked out in fur, leather and constellations on the inside.

And for the summer, Max Miller, 21, of Roslyn will call it his home away from home.

As the culmination of a project more than a year in the making alongside his father, David, Max will depart with the trailer hitched to a 2015 GMC Yukon XL for a tour of the American Southwest, from New York to California with numerous stops in between.

For the Millers, the idea had been long gestating in their minds.

“I remember one of the major ideas that me and my dad had of projects to do was always to renovate a school bus into a traveling lounge, to basically just make it into a party bus,” Max Miller said.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Max, then a sophomore at Chapman University in Orange, California, had to take classes online and was stuck inside until May, when he was inspired by a friend’s plans.

“My one of my best friends out in school told me that he wasn’t going to be coming back to school this year, that he was going to take a gap year and travel in a 1980s Chevy conversion van,” Max said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, that sounds like the sickest thing!’ I’d been watching so many people on Tik Tok, renovating school buses, and me and my dad have been talking about that forever. I just thought, ‘I need to get a school bus and travel around the country.’ So I called my dad all excited, and said that I want to take a gap year, I don’t want to go back to online school. I want to buy a school bus, renovate it and turn it into an ultimate like traveling lounge.”

The idea appealed to his father, a creative director and event designer.

“We wanted to turn it into a nightclub, into a lounge,” David Miller said. “So we wanted an open floor plan, but they were hard to find.”

As the two talked it out, they realized the bus wouldn’t be practical for what they pictured.

“If you redo a school bus, you need to install electrical, you need to install batteries for the electrical, you need to run plumbing, and all that stuff,” Max said. “Whereas, for around the same-ish price, you can buy a RV travel trailer, and it’s already plumbed, it already has electrical, all you have to do really is just touch up the surfaces and make it look like your own, unless you don’t do a good job of inspecting it in which case you’re gonna have to do a lot more.”

The two bought the Fleetwood Wilderness trailer in September from a seller in New Jersey, but upon taking a closer look saw that there was more work to be done.

“We found rotted floors and soft spots due to water damage, and we had no idea how to fix it,” Max said.

Undeterred, the Millers turned to the internet and got to it.

“It’s amazing what Reddit groups and YouTube and Facebook videos can teach you,” David Miller said with a laugh. “We just were literally sitting in here watching videos as we’re repairing it!”

Father and son ripped up the floor, cleaned out mold, black spots, rotted wood and other unpleasant sights and smells within the trailer’s deepest confines, and then began the interior design process.

Within the next few months, the Millers installed a bar, two TV’s, two fireplaces, LED lighting, a disco ball and colorful wallpaper designed by Brooklyn-based glass mosaic and interior designer Allison Eden.

Once the interiors were complete, Max and David reached out to Robert Z. Pelleiter, a Connecticut-based artist they had seen at comic conventions also known as RZP, to design an eye-catching design for the trailer’s exterior.

Pelleiter created a vibrant mural inspired by the works of Dr. Seuss, using spray paint to complete it the week before Max’s departure. Characters like Sam-I-Am, the Sneetches and Max the dog adorn the surface, and Seussian quotes from his books were written on clouds, including, of course, “oh, the places you’ll go.”

Max’s planned route goes down the Eastern Seaboard and then through the Southwest, with planned stops including the Outer Banks in North Carolina; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; the Grand Canyon; Las Vegas, Nevada; and numerous locations in California including the Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Parks, Death Valley and Big Sur.

Once Max reaches Chapman for his junior year in September, the trailer, along with a digital diary of both the renovation and his journey, will be offered for sale as what David calls “the world’s first non-fungible token Art RV.” An “NFT” is a unit of data, often an image, on a digital ledger known as a blockchain, which certifies it to be unique and not interchangeable. NFTs have made news recently, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey selling an image of his platform’s first tweet for $2.9 million.

For Max, who has traded in cryptocurrency like bitcoin for years with his mother, Vicki, the idea seemed unique.

“Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to spend a few months on the road, but whoever buys the NFT will be able to share the experience virtually through my collection, and possibly have some adventures of their own in the NFT Art RV,” Max said.

The trailer was scheduled to begin its maiden trip on Thursday. Its adventures will be documented via Instagram at the handle @MillerThymeTravel, with the project gaining its punny name from Vicki’s status as owner of the First Spice Mixing Company.

For David, the departure will be bittersweet.

“I have such an incredible bond with him,” David said. “This was sort of a gift. And he actually has his original copy of ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ with the poem I wrote from when he was 9 years old, so he’s planning on taking that with him.”

David’s gift will also serve as a guestbook, with Max eager to get new friends to sign it and leave their social media handles.

“I cannot wait to get this on the road,” Max said. “I can’t wait to have experiences in this and have friends in here and, like, just start using it, because my dad and I spent six months, making it happen. I’m ready to use it.”

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