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If you’ve seen a tricked out vintage trailer heading down the road, customized with a distinctly feminine theme, and there’s a woman at the wheel, chances are she’s a member of Sisters on the Fly.
The group is the brainchild of Becky Clarke and Maurrie Sussman: two women with a flair for outfitting vintage trailers. In 1999, during a camping trip to Montana, the two friends shared a glass of wine, and conceived an idea. Both women already shared a love of fishing, and road trips. Why not invite other women to join in the fun? Clarke and Sussman figured it was time to feminize the RV lifestyle. That meant no spouses, pets, or children would be invited, only women. According to the group’s website, the brainstorming session proved to be the beginning of what has now grown into a group 2,400 members strong. They range in age from 21 to 93. The Los Angeles group alone claims over 300 members.
Restoring vintage trailers was already Clarke’s forté, as she was an experienced interior designer. Her friend, Sussman, worked with distressed and abused animals, and sought a way to relieve her stress. The two friends found their RV trips to be an exhilarating experience. It sparked an idea: Why not invite other women along for the ride? Soon, a dozen fellow female “roadies” had signed on for the next trip. Over the ensuing decade, the idea caught on like wildfire.
The group’s Facebook Page currently has over 2,000 likes, including groups such as Farmgirl Sisters, and RVing Women. A chat room, a marketplace, and a growing social-media presence are proof it’s a timely idea. The group’s leaders say they welcome all women to the sisterhood. Their motto: “We have more fun than anyone.” The organization also raises money for charity, through offering trailer tours of members’ tricked-out RVs. After all, who wouldn’t want a chance to see what a creative woman could do with an antique trailer?
Members lovingly and meticulously paint their RVs. Themes range from whimsical Hawaiian motifs, to fifties-era retro. Many have images of fish. No surprise there, as the group encourages women to engage in the sport of fly fishing. And, there’s no shortage of cowgirl imagery, either.
Individual members pay $60 in annual dues. The women are free to form relationships with other members, sometimes making connections that span the continent. Sisters on the Fly members embark on all kinds of RV excursions, towing tricked-out vehicles painted with every feminine shade of pink and red that one could imagine. These are modern-day cowgirls with a flair for adventure and a love of sisterhood. Through the group’s website, members may sign up for events ranging from a “Homespun Hoedown” to fancy-dress parties. Naturally, fly-fishing excursions are high on the list. Women have readily embraced the concept. Joi Ball, a “sister” from Arkansas, told Marvelous! Magazine: “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.”
The sisters also promote a range of charitable endeavors, such as Casting for Recovery, a charity that helps breast cancer survivors learn the in’s and out’s of fly fishing. The group supports women affected by breast cancer by providing an all-expense-paid, two-and-half-day retreat. According to the Casting for Recovery website, survivors of breast cancer deserve an escape from the pressures and suffering that often accompany a diagnosis of breast cancer. Then, there’s the “Hookin’ Up” Bra Project. Members of Sisters on the Fly decorate a bra with a member’s name and number, throwing a dollar bill into the kitty. The money is then donated to Casting for Recovery.
The group’s members pitch in and help one another in a myriad of ways, including commiserating with women who’ve suffering tragedies, sorrows, setbacks, or are just struggling with loneliness. The Sisters on the Fly Traveling Quilt Project aids members of the group that are undergoing the trials of a breast cancer diagnosis, according to the group’s website. These quilts tell a story of their own, because a patch is placed on a quilt each time it is sent out to a suffering woman. Some have gone to men, who have female relatives that have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Each year Sisters on the Fly organize a gathering of fellow sisters, who nurture one another through shared conversations, and opportunities to socialize with other women. “We do all sorts of fun things, a dance with a DJ, an apron contest, a cowgirl prom and go take dips in the swimming pool or hot tub,” Mig Whitt told Jeff Spry, a feature writer for The Cascade Business News. Whitt travelled nine hours to meet up with fellow members at a 2012 gathering in Bend, Ore. “We’re all just a bunch of fun gals who want to get away and go fishing.”