Sven’s World: Our Interview with a Travelling Gnome

We’re here to interview Sven on a lovely morning at his home in sunny California, US of A. He stands all of 3” tall, black boots planted squarely on the coffee table, valise held at the ready, and full of perky expectation.

Q: Good morning, Sven. Thank you for giving us the chance to meet you. You appear ready to dash out the door at any moment. I’ve heard that you claim to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice.

Sven: Yes! It’s really all I’ve ever wanted to do. I lived in a bookstore briefly and met a fellow by the name of Flat Stanley. After hearing his wild adventures and seeing some of his photos, I knew it was the life for me. I met my owner soon after. She and I discussed it over non-fat vanilla lattes and felt a connection right away. It was obvious we were meant for great travels together.

Initially, I seriously considered becoming a pirate. After all, Flat Stanley was a little…flat. I’m made of sterner stuff. But I simply can’t pull it off with this hat.

Q: Your hat is quite remarkable. I like it.

Sven: It stands tall in the wind, yes, and the red makes me easier to find when I’m lounging in the bottom of a huge dark purse, but a pirate captain requires a skull and crossbones at the very least. I tried on a Native American ceremonial headdress in Taos once. But it wasn’t the same.

Q: When did you begin your travels?

Sven: It would’ve been 2008. I was young and cocky then and jumped at the first travel opportunity that came along, taking off with a stranger. Well, I was held hostage in Cambria for weeks until I made my way back home. Lesson learned! I’ve avoided hitch hiking ever since.

Q: I see. Have you traveled outside of California?

Sven: Yes. Here and there in America of course. Road trips through Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, skiing in Utah, and deer hunting in Texas. A flight to Virginia. A flight to Maui for snorkeling and whale watching. Southwest Airlines are fairly nice, by the way, and Alaska Air served mai tai’s on our flight to Hawaii, so they rank well in my book.

Q: Tell me a little about your road trips.

Sven: I used to have a bucket seat near the A/C but now I ride at the bow of the Black Pearl, as I call our car. My job is to watch for pirates…er…cops in the fast lane. It’s an honor I don’t take lightly. While I won’t ask for bathroom breaks, I very much insist that we stop for amazing sunset photo ops, where ever we happen to be at dusk. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” and all that.

Q: Any particular memory from a road trip?

Sven: Well, you really must stop at THE THING.


Sven: Oh yes! All there is for simply miles upon miles of cactus habitat in Arizona on your way to New Mexico is billboards. They all advertise for THE THING, which is the only THING for pretty much ever that you can stop and take a break at. Even I’m stiff after hours of driving, and the shocking secret they keep hidden there is so worth it.

Q: What is it?

Sven: (Chuckling) Oh no. You’re going to have to go there yourself and find out!

Q: Hm. I see. How about international travel then?

Sven: I have excellent photos from New Zealand! You really must go. Halfway around the world, I did some pretty awesome kayaking, hiking, and sightseeing of course, and I am thinking of doing Australia this summer. Outback and all, you know. Possibly don my formals and attend a wedding.

Q: You have a passport?

Sven: Of course. I keep it updated at all times, just in case.

Q: In your valise there?

Sven: Of course not. My valise is filled to the top with jellybeans. Mostly black ones. You should never go anywhere without snacks handy. (He shudders slightly) You never know what a native will hand you for dinner.

Never check your bags by the way. I pack light, and only have this carry-on. I had it tattooed with a plumeria during my stay in Maui. Special treat.

Q: Would you ever fly solo?

Sven: You mean by mail? Never! There are many places I want to go in this big beautiful world but I have no intention of asking the government to take me there. Have you seen the way FedEx throws…er…delivers packages?! Outrageous. Go with family. Always.

Q: I’d like to ask, before we finish, if you have any travelling “incidents” you’d like to share with our readers? Many times, travel does not turn out to be as smooth sailing as it was planned.

Sven: I’m so glad you asked. Sometimes it’s the “incidents” that were unplanned that become your travel book’s best memories! Yes, there was the time I went skydiving without a parachute, out a window while dining at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Lahaina. It may have been the mai tai in a pineapple that got to me. Luckily, I landed on my pointy hat in the sand. So it’s good for something after all.

I had some minor hand surgery the summer I went to Texas, connected to holding a fiery sparkler on the Fourth of July. Texans do love their pyrotechnics! At least they didn’t tie me to a rocket. I know that’s what they were thinking. I’ll be a pirate…but not an astronaut.

(Sven pauses for a moment.)

And then there was the time I underwent complete Humpty Dumpty emergency surgery.

Q: I’m afraid to ask.

Sven: You should be. I was “skipping” along the surface of a swimming pool. Unfortunately, the pool stopped, but I did not. Striking the concrete, I broke completely in half. I’ve only felt that kind of terror once before, while being chewed on by a recalcitrant raccoon. Now I have the scars that prove I’ve been places and done things, by jove, and what’s a little inconvenience when one is having grand adventures?! I’d like to see Flat Stanley top that one!

Q: Perhaps you, maybe, should not try to walk on water in future. It really is past time for us to go. I’d guess by looking around your lovely home that you could be just as content staying here as travelling abroad.

Sven: Yes, I work a little, church a little, once in a while attend an Aztec or Padre game. We play monopoly and I get to be the banker. I dabble in real estate on occasion. But in my heart, I’m just waiting for the next big trip.

Q: Thank you so much for sharing your travels today. We look forward to hearing about your next grand adventure, where ever the road may take you.


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