Crafty Nomad (kind of)

It’s a chilly, rainy day in south Texas, so I’m looking around inside for something to do that’s moderately productive. This is where “craft” enters my vocabulary; in my before life I used that word only after “beer.”

Another oddity: I have time on my hands but very little space. I can’t garden, or do an indoor workout, or even scrub the bathtub (hurray!). Again, all signs point to weird crafts.

Before I make myself vulnerable with photos of mediocre work, let me defend myself with a conceit from Mark Twain. (Actually, even here I’m mediocre because I can’t find the exact quote; who said this if not Twain?) The gist is the it’s better to have a little knowledge about many things than to be an expert in just one; it makes you a more interesting conversationalist. I’ll take it.


I ended up with a ton of lovely knitting supplies when my sister died, so when I hit the road, I packed what I could fit in this super-handy knitting bag that I store under the bed.

My criteria for projects are specific. I like to knit while riding in the truck on long travel days, but I also want to look out the window and follow Google maps on my iPad. So my pattern has to be fairly easy (these are my excuses!). If I can use some of my sister’s yarn, bonus.

Early on, I knitted this skirt with her wool, and man does it look better on than in this photo. I think I was sewing in a slip as a liner here.

Other early projects include masks for Tracy and me right when the pandemic hit, plus handy little doodads for the trailer, like a bag for hanging garlic by our spice rack “Little” is key since I can’t store much yarn.

I also knit Christmas gifts, partly because it’s hard for me to order stuff online: I’d have to carefully plan how to receive packages in time and then store them somewhere before I ship them out, which is just not gonna happen. And I hate shopping! Knitting for the win.

For my first set of Christmas gifts from the road, I knitted very cute Christmas tree lights along a braided green string, but damned if I forgot to take a photo!

Another year I knitted—for Finn and his two cousins—pillows in the shape of D&D dice. They are not perfect, but how cool is that concept? It was quite the challenge in figuring out which sides to knit along other sides and which way was up. They’re accurate!

Last Christmas’s presents to them were three throw blankets that look like pride flags. Took me forever to get the dimensions right. With the extra wood I made throw pillow covers. Gotta use all materials to make room for another.

Cross Stitch

I totally blame this craft on an Airstreamer I met in Arkansas. She introduced me to National Parks stitching patterns; these are the ones she’s done using embroidery, displayed in her trailer kitchen. Cool, huh?

I picked out a half-dozen to make as Christmas presents and immediately remembered why cross stitch drives me nuts. It takes so long!

I’ve finished only one so far, which I’m giving to Finn this spring. It’s supposed to be the New River Gorge National Park, which is a new one in West Virginia, but it made me think of the view of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights, which I’ve hiked with Finn a kazillion times. It’s not gorgeous or accurate, but I bet it’ll remind him of home.

What I’m excited about is a travel map I’ve been experimenting with. The one on the left is very small, with black stitches marking favorite camping spots in each state.

I’ve just started the bigger one that’s more accurate and has space for a brilliant idea: special places marked with sewn-on beads left over from Tiny Houses. Problem is there’s no wall space in the trailer to hang this! It’ll take me so long to finish that I’ll surely figure out what to do with it by the time I’m done.


This hobby takes up much less space, but it’s the most demanding of my dwindling brain power. I should be learning to read music, learning music theory, doing finger exercises, but really I end up playing super-easy songs over and over and taking pictures of myself looking cool. I mean, who doesn’t want to look cool?

For not being good at this, I sure have a lot of recordings of myself. I have a YouTube channel where I log my progress and show off beautiful backdrops, and I have an album I made for fun that turned into a lesser version of what I intended. Still, it gave me an excuse to work closely with Finn as producer and editor, which makes the time spent worthwhile.

Despite frustrations, I have been meeting my basic playing goal: to entertain Tracy and myself while we sit around outside in the wild at night. I can play songs that we both recognize, and I can sing along to them. Reasonable expectations is the name of the game.

Tiny Houses

This one’s a big surprise.

I began making tiny houses from kits in the trailer as something to do late at night when I can’t sleep. It takes up little space, is quiet, doesn’t require electricity or internet (this was before our added solar panels and Starlink), and it keeps my restless self focused.

Man, has this taken off as an obsession! I thought I’d make just one tiny house for fun, but I’m on #23, with no plan to stop.

I store each current Tiny House and all its pieces and supplies in a bin the shower, and I don’t allow myself to buy another kit until I give away the house I just finished.

I enjoy giving them away, so if I’m going to see you in the next while and you would like one, give me a shout.

Here’s a page with photos of them all.

And here’s the one that went viral.

I crack myself up that I write a travel blog, but the entry that snags the most eyeballs is about something I made with glue.

This Blog

Which leads me to my favorite hobby, also unexpected and quite consuming. I began this blog a couple of months before we took off, and man did I begin humbly. This was my first post, January 2019. I had no idea what I was starting.

Since then, I’ve written 530 posts in three years.

In a lifetime of being a reader and an editor, never did I even hope to be a writer: I know how hard it is. But, turns out I really enjoy it. I like the process, and I love looking back at our travels using this space. Seems like nearly every day I’m trying to remember somewhere we’ve been or something we’ve done, and I find it by searching this blog.

In a way, the blog has shaped how I experience travel, even though I try to deny that. For example, I’ve taken some surprisingly lovely photos with my outdated iPhone, mostly so I can show you here. And I’ve branched into writing personal narrative unrelated to travel that’s been cathartic. Amazingly, people read what I write, like, on purpose—even people I don’t know.

For someone with very little space and meager creativity, I sure do a lot of creating.

It’s funny: Tracy spends his down time absorbing content, whereas I spew it out. We’re like a data machine, the two of us, and in the evenings when we’re playing cards and drinking beer, we exchange info on the only things we don’t experience together.

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