My Home On ‘Wheels’ and What I Do for Fun

by Nancy Barnhart.
(Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA)

Nancy and her chains at an rv park's craft sale.

Nancy and her chains at an rv park’s craft sale.


My name is Nancy Barnhart and I live in an RV (recreational vehicle for those non rv types out there). My husband, David, and I sold our home of 35 years back in 2000 which was located in the San Diego, CA area, and took off for parts unknown in our truck, pulling our 2 yr old 30′ 5th wheel.

We had vacationed for all of our married life with our two boys in a cabover camper and dreamed of seeing the U.S.A. once we retired. We were the first of both of our families and all of our friends to ‘sell all and hit the road’ – many thought us nuts!

We signed up with a mail forwarding service in South Dakota who said they would collect our mail and forward it to us when we requested it.

We changed our residence from California to South Dakota and signed up to vote and got new drivers licenses there. We also got a cell phone before we left that could also be used as a modem to access the internet.

Another need we found was satellite tv, so we asked Dish Network ‘how far we needed to move’ in order to get a new box and dish – they said we fit their requirements and delivered both to us at the first rv campground we stayed in.

Now, we were ‘set’ and spent the next 2 years on the east coast, wintering in Texas the first year, traveling up to Canada and down the east coast and wintering in Florida the next year.

While in southern Texas, I was working on my chain making on a tv tray in the patio and those walking by would ask what I was doing. Before I knew it, I was teaching chain making classes in the rec hall to whoever wanted to learn.

One gal named Ruby was my first student of many to follow and picked it up quickly. (More fun stuff about her later.)

I did the same thing when we wintered in Florida, taught classes to whoever would listen and enjoyed the camaraderie of those sharing my passion. While there, several of us also took some beginner wire wrap classes in town. I continue to play with square wire also.

While in the Omaha area visiting friends the next year, I emailed a gal I knew from my Yahoo Email Group Wire Wrap Jewelry who lived nearby. We got together to share what we each made and she’s been buying much of my finished product for the last few years. She does a lot of craft shows and likes the diversity of chains and beaded things. You just never know where a friendship will lead – so try some new ones!

The summer of ’07 we drove up to Alaska and back (15,000 miles round trip) and while there, I visited a bead shop in Wasilla and the owner bought almost everything I had for sale with the prompting of my girlfriend from grade school who lives up there. She had never seen any chains made with wire but had done some wire wrapping. We tried to get classes going but summer is a busy time for Alaskans and most were busy with other things (fishing mostly and the tourists).

We loved our trip up there and back – awesome scenery and lots of wildlife, topped off on the way back down through BC of viewing bears feeding on spawning salmon within 20 feet of us (we stood on a catwalk above the creek).

Anyway – along our travels and surfing online, I’ve found and accumulated inexpensive tools for beginners to use in the classes and come up with a winder which I use to make coils of wire, which are then cut into loose jumprings for fashioning my latest chain pattern (and tutorials). Hubby has helped me make a CD of many of my chain patterns in html format which makes sharing my gathered information really easy.

Our first winter in Arizona (3 yrs ago), we were shopping in Blythe and I heard “Nancy?” and turned around, there was Ruby and Tom (from our winter in Texas!) – So since then, we’ve wintered in her rv park in Brenda, AZ and are continuing our friendship and our love of chain making.

She had taught another gal in the park (Arlene) and so now I am a ‘gramma’ in that respect – I just love it!! and… Arlene is a huge help when my classes get too big for me to handle, she steps up to bat and answers questions and helps the newbies get the hang of the pattern we’re working on.

It’s fun to do our hobbies and share the finished items with others, but it’s even more fun to teach them how you do it and gain new friends in the process.

This last spring I was invited up to an rv park in Congress for a week during their Bead Week to teach chain making (3rd winter in a row) and so I went with hubby and our rig and 20 lb adopted stray cat. We had a blast and a half!
I gave 2 and 3 classes each day Monday thru Friday, sold tools and wire and chatted when not teaching, and came home with only one complaint. My change purse no longer could hold all my money and I was going to have to make a bigger one for next year. (snicker)

Another new instructor taught some wire wrapping and many others all kinds of beadwork. We had a ball with the classes, potlucks, lunches out on the town and evening bead-ins!

It was 2 months of solid work beforehand, buying pliers, wire cutters, wire, parts for winders, drill rods that I cut up into mandrels for jumprings, making up kits for the classes, printing out instructions and pricing tools and wire that would be for sale. I wanted to do it ‘right’ and be prepared this year!

I found it all worthwhile when my boxes of ‘stuff to share’ came home empty and my purse full. I earned the most ever ($1,423.65) during this week of classes. Now… I can buy all those new colors of wire I’ve been drooling over at !

This summer’s travels? Who knows, but I’m sure it will include some more sharing along the way of my chain making addiction. Maybe we’ll see *you* in our travels of the west coast, including Oregon, Washington and over into Montana.

My favorite quote:
A creative mess is better than tidy idleness.

Nancy Barnhart
David & Nancy’s Home on the Web

website of travel pics


What a great way to combine travel and jewelry!
by: Rena


I love how you weave jewelry into your travels, and how it’s the doorway to meeting new kindred spirits everywhere you go!

Your workshop ideas are fantastic.

Thanks so much for posting your fun and inspiring jewelry journey here! I really enjoyed reading it.

Happy trails to you and your hubby.


Having fun and traveling
by: Nancy B

I normally tell people who ask, that we’re having ‘more fun than should be legal’ lol

We’re both glad we spent those years after the boys left home dumping funds into our retirement monies so we *could* do this and enjoy it.

Thanks to this website and also for your kind comments.

Awesome story!
by: Linda C.

Your life is awesome! Traveling and always busy with your many passions. You have a zest for life that rubs off on all you meet! I have never met a friendlier, fun lovin’, talented gal.

Your chain work is fantastic and it was fun learning from the best. I have made over a hundred bracelets for friends.

Happy trails, Linda

Check is in the mail to Linda – lol
by: Nancy B

Hi Linda and thanks for your lovely comments – (big check is in the mail!) would only expect the same from a life long school chum! In my opinion it takes one of these kinds of people to see the same in others. I think I learned it all from you growing up!

Every life should have a “Nancy” in it.
by: Ann

Nancy your middle name should be FUN!!! You are one of a kind and I’m so glad you and David entered in our lives. Can’t wait until we all return to the RV park or better yet until you come to Montana!!!! Keep on laughing…LOVED your “Page”!!!!

by: Heather

I read your story and definately had quite a few chuckles. You’re a commedian! It sounds like you’re having a blast with your husband. God bless the both of you. Keep making that jewelry and sharing your talent!

by: Paul

hello Nancy
good to meet you…I’m 2 below you on the website

would love to hear from your husband too .
youse two live the life Sandy and I aspire to do.

I need some tips from DAVID because Sandy just told me I’m going to learn hpw to make necklaces too !!!!



Reply to Paul…
by: Nancy B

Hi –
Currently we’re fellowshipping with newly made friends this last winter at their summer home up in Montana. It’s awesome up here! Beautiful scenery, big mountains, heaven like meadows, rivers, and rolling hills. Today we drove into Helena to get our Wally World fix (Walmart groceries and new bbq) and saw groups of pronghorn (antelope) in the fields on both sides of the highway, then up against the base of a hill to the east was a group of elk ! Love it, seeing the wildlife as we drive around this gorgeous country of ours!

Thanks for your kind comments and if you ‘wanna do this too!’ – JUST DO IT! you’ll love it!

There’s nothing hard about a necklace, you just make it about 3 times as long as a bracelet and charge triple the money (chuckle).

I grew up being able to try any craft I was interested in (before tv was in every home) and so I lost my fear of failure early on, and learned that anything ‘new’ just needed some practice to get it down and I should not get too down on myself if I didn’t get it right off.

I tell those who take my classes that if you don’t try you won’t know if this chain making is something you’ll enjoy or not – so try! I also tell them I don’t mind repeating myself or showing them how it’s done UNTIL they get it – all they need do is ask. There are lots of different ways to learn something new and I try to cover the bases of verbal or words on a page as well as seeing it done.

We have fun and lots of laughs as I share stories from our travels (before GPS) and the fun people we’ve met along the way.

I could write a book about ‘how to enjoy your rv lifestyle’ but that’s another topic for another day 🙂 It’s a lot of ‘living in the present’ or enjoying yourself to the fullest right where you are.

Nancy B

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