He signs all his artwork as The Lost Gypsy. Some of the kids call him Uncle Gypsy, but most people just know him as Gypsy.
For a couple years now, Gypsy has been building his own tiny home on some property south of Cheyenne.
He said he learned a lot of building skills from living “rustically” most of his life.
According to a 2021 study, the average professionally built tiny home runs about $52,000. Gypsy said he’s put about $5,000 into his so far.
“It was mostly made from junk stuff I scrounged up from old RVs,” Gypsy said.
He’s done most of the work himself. A friend helped him move a 100-gallon water tank into its space near the rear of the home.
“That’s just because he was standing there at the time,” he said.
He still has some work to do on it, including installing rooftop solar and a small wind generator. His goal is to have it all complete for his 21-year-old granddaughter, Kianna, to live in when he’s gone.
Gypsy has been a biker for 58 years. He worked as an electrician and FedEx delivery driver for 20 years. An injury led him to have to retire, and he’s in his mid-70s now.
He said he went to Woodstock — he and some other biker buddies of his — but he doesn’t remember much of what happened there.
He grew up in Detroit and wore his Detroit Clutchman patch on his jacket back in the day.
“Somebody in the club 30 miles away robbed a store or something, I got pulled over and rousted for it, because I had the same patch,” Gypsy recalls.
In his younger days, he’d hang out on the Detroit riverfront and watch the giant ships coming in with ore to the big auto manufacturing plants, and then head out loaded with cars.
“We’d be tripping our ass off on acid watching all the oil on the water. It just makes all these cool colors,” he said with a grin.
He lived up in the mountains for 11 years in a sheepherder wagon on the back of a 1952 pickup. He spoke positively of his “neighbors” up there.
“City people just don’t think the same. I had wonderful neighbors up there, better than any neighbors I ever had in town. Every year, I would go out and kill one of them to get through the winter,” Gypsy said.
He’d butcher his “neighbor” up and get all the meat stored away. He said after that one kill, the animals would wander through his yard and not pay any attention to him.
“Because I already got my deer that year,” he said.
Off The Grid
Before opening the door to his tiny home, he warns that as a bachelor living alone he might not be the cleanest person in the world.
Like many Wyominites, he’s well armed. There’s a crossbow hanging from the ceiling and a holstered black powder pistol hanging above the bed.
Gypsy doesn’t have a computer or internet. Instead of a smartphone, he has an old flip phone.
When he needed to find a refrigerator for his tiny home, he asked friends to search online for one.
They found him a Whirlpool that runs on 110 volts. He has a 400-watt inverter in the electrical compartment of his house. When he goes off the grid, he plugs it into the inverter. It pulls less than an amp when it’s running, and when he gets his wind turbine and solar panels installed, he’ll be able to run it off the renewable system.
He pulled out his flip phone and showed off photos of his 14-year-old daughter, Sheva Hativah. It’s a Hebrew name that means “golden hope.”
Like a normal teenager, the photos are all selfies, which she sends off to her dad by the dozen. Several of them are made on apps to show sparkles and masks.
“That’s my dog,” Gypsy said of one of Sheva with a snout and floppy ears. He flips to another one of the girl with whiskers. “That’s my cat,” he said.
He flips through another with her cradling a guitar. He said she doesn’t play.
“No, that’s her brother’s. She was just holding the guitar to look cool.”
Pieces And Parts
The tiny home that Gypsy hopes will be Kianna’s one day started out as a gutted 1967 travel trailer. He paid $100 for it and stripped it down to just the lower frame the house sits on.
He bought the 2X3s at Home Depot, carefully selecting the lightest ones he could find, and covered them in Polar Bear Waterproofing.
He got the insulation from some construction waste when they put a new roof on East High School. The rubber material for the roof also came from the East High construction waste.
It has a gambrel roof, meaning it’s sloped rather than flat. He did it that way to make it feel larger inside. He also put a solar roof on it to help create natural light in doors.
The round window in the wooden door came from a pressure chamber. He said he’ll eventually etch a dragon embryo design into it that will make it so no one can see in, but he can see out.
He has a composting toilet, and he’s still finishing the shower. The water system runs off of air pressure. There’s an air pump he can turn on, or he can hand pressurize it if there’s no power.
“A pressurized tank won’t freeze,” Gypsy said.
The water tank is hooked up to a downspout so it can be filled by rainwater.
He also has a miniature pot belly stove by the door. The wall behind it is protected by a metal sheet he got from a vending machine.
He collects wood from construction waste or the stuff tree trimmers throw away, and on subzero nights, the stove keeps the home comfortable.
Walk To Coffee
Gypsy will soon be taking his tiny home on the road. It’s currently located on a friend’s property, where he’s lived for over 20 years.
He has another friend who has some property west of Cheyenne. Vagrants burnt down a home on it, so the owner, who doesn’t live there all year, wants someone present on the property.
Gypsy plans to park his tiny home there and keep an eye on the place. He’s also going to trade some electrical work as well.
Over the next couple of years or so, wants to finish up the home so he can pass it on to his granddaughter.
He’s even collected some heritage seeds so he can start a garden when he gets to the new location.
He said the best part is that it’s within walking distance of the Denny’s at Flying J Travel Center, where he likes to sit at the counter and enjoy a cup of coffee. His only transportation is a bike.
“When we get a blizzard, I can put the snowshoes on and go to coffee. I don’t have to wait four or five days until the snow melts down to get the bike out,” Gypsy said.