MEET LOCAL COLOR XC
two years ago we decided to renovate a trailer & travel the lower 48. we're local color xc
Elsie is a 1968 FAN travel trailer. We spent 8 months gutting, renovating and prepping Elsie for a year on the road. Follow our remodel on our Camper DIY page.
Carson's the writer. Mel's the entrepreneur. Costello is the goldendoodle.
- Carson grew up in a cow town called Broken Bow (pop. 3,491) on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, the largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere. Following a three-year stint studying and teaching creative writing in North Carolina, Carson returned to his home state and began freelancing full-time, edging his way into The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, National Geographic, Salon and more. To read more of Carson's news, reviews, essays and features, check out carsonvaughan.com.
- Mel grew up on a family farm near Plainview (Pop. 1,246), the “Klown Kapital of Nebraska.” She agrees with you--it's pretty creepy. She received her M.A. and undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (where she met Carson) and has worked in retail marketing and PR for the last five years. She recently started her own online retail shop, Tabled, which sells tableware gifts & accessories. You can find her on LinkedIn, too.
- Costello hails from the backwoods of Wallace, North Carolina (pop. 4,010), home, apparently, to the Wallace Commercial Historic District; a real point of pride for Costello. He loves tennis balls, dirty laundry, used Kleenex and the hit film "The Grey" starring Liam Neeson. He hates squirrels, ceiling fans, thunderstorms and exercise balls.
Answering the question "why are you fixing up a trailer and traveling for the year with your dog?" isn't easy. Thankfully, Carson already did it for Travel + Leisure. So why reinvent the wheel? Here's a bit from that essay, My Dad Won't Stop Renovating My 1968 Trailer.
"We’d spent the majority of our lives in Nebraska, both of us born and raised in towns that made Lincoln—where we first met at the university—feel like Metropolis. That we were still in Nebraska at all was a source of unspoken regret between Mel and me. We loved Nebraska—really, we did—but we’d grown tired of it. The whole state felt like an old rental: no matter how many times we rearranged the furniture, it just didn’t excite us anymore.
At the summit of our malaise, we took a bike ride along the Salt Creek. Several miles in, Mel turned to me and said matter-of-factly, “Let’s buy a camper, and you can write from the road.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t. We’d talked about it before, renovating an old trailer, traveling more, but it was always hypothetical. “I’m serious,” she said. “What if we just did it? If it’s a mistake, it’s a mistake. We’re still young. No kids. No mortgage. Now’s our chance.”
Two months later, Carson sat in a McDonald’s parking lot in Stuart, Iowa, waiting to meet a guy named Ray who was selling his 16-foot trailer on Craigslist."
That trailer is now known affectionately, to us, as Elsie.
We didn't come up with the idea to travel the U.S. in a camper out of nowhere.
- Carson loves writing, he loves travel, and he loves his girlfriend. When Mel hinted at the idea of renovating an old trailer and hitting the road, he didn’t stand a chance.
- Mel’s great aunt and uncle once caravanned around the U.S. with their cocker spaniel. She’s looking forward to following their footsteps with a slightly bigger dog in tow. Mel is currently turning her passion for retail and travel into a new career: entrepreneur!
- Costello read John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley once. He thought it was decent.
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