Photo: David J. Foxhoven
In 1999, while camping in Montana, sisters Maurrie Sussman, 60, and Becky Clarke, 57, shared a glass of wine outside their vintage trailers, Lucy and Twisted Sister—both of which they'd outfitted with retro decor and luxe feather beds. The sisters chatted about the week ahead, full of fishing, horseback riding, and antiquing. The getaway was just what they needed.Sussman loved her job as an animal rescuer, and Clarke's work as an interior designer was rewarding, but add in their duties as moms and wives, and both women were itching for a little adventure. In fact, they thought, many women might benefit from some trailer time. That's when inspiration struck: Why not ask others to join the fun?
The next time Sussman and Clarke took to the open road, a dozen female friends—and friends of friends—joined them. The group christened itself Sisters on the Fly, and instituted a rule: no husbands or children allowed. Twelve years later, SOTF has swelled to nearly 2,000 members across the United States and Canada, ranging in age from 21 to 88. While trailers aren't required, many Sisters own Winnebagos, Holidays, and Airstreams from the '50s and '60s, each lovingly decorated ("usually in a kitschy Western theme," Sussman says) and nicknamed (Rhinestone Cowgirl, Roam Sweet Home, and Belle on Wheels are all fixtures on the circuit). "Even though we're camping, we get to bring our bedrooms with us," says Clarke. "After adventuring all day, it feels so good to come home to a down comforter."
On sistersonthefly.com, members can register for fly-fishing workshops, excursions to Yosemite National Park, the annual "Homespun Hoedown"—a prom-style party in Fort Payne, Alabama—and many more gatherings. Sisters have circled their wagons along Oregon's coastline, in the Smoky Mountains, on the Midwestern plains, and in Texas Hill Country, camping in national parks, ranchers' meadows, and on the beach. In every location, the Sisters give something back to the community by opening their trailers for tours and donating the proceeds—recently, they raised $3,000 to buy books for a school in Savannah.
Wherever their travels take them, the Sisters' goal is always to have a fine time cowgirling it up with the like-minded. Says Sussman, "Our motto is simple, but it's true: 'We have more fun than anyone.'"
Irene Rawlings is the author of Sisters on the Fly: Caravans, Campfires, and Tales from the Road (Andrews McMeel).
Ready for an Adventure?
From the June 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
From the June 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine