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Friends: Sisters On The Fly

Posted on 17 May 2010

I have been looking forward to this post for some time now.  Back in November, I connected with Irene Rawlings on Facebook.  Double D was looking for a cute camper for the spring photo-shoot and Irene kindly helped us locate and nail down a "canned ham" for the shoot.
As we were making arrangements, I learned Irene was putting the finishing touches on a book featuring the fun, weekend-vagabond lifestyle of Sisters on the Fly, a group of women who travel around the country in restored vintage trailers.  I can go on and on,  but I'm going to let Irene take it from here...
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I am thrilled to be writing a guest blog on DoubleTalk.  Doubly thrilled, actually, because Sisters on the Fly: Caravans, Campfires and Tales from the Road (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, $14.99) hits the bookstores today!
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Here's how I met the Sisters. I was in Big Sky, Montana, working on magazine assignment when a long caravan of vintage trailers drove by--the most colorful and fun trailers I've ever seen. I did a quick u-turn and followed the caravan.  Sisters on the Fly, it turns out, is a group of women who buys, restores and decorates old trailers, giving them names like Sister Sioux, Rhinestone Cowgirl, Calamity Jane and Mustang Sally.  Many of the Sisters find their trailers just sitting in a farmer's field or rancher's meadow. Sometimes they are allowed to just "haul that junk away."  Other times, they pay as little as $50.  A fully restored vintage trailer can cost more than $8,000 but most Sisters on the Fly agree they'd rather do it themselves, an appealingly old-fashioned idea in these cash-strapped times.
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Sisters on the Fly was started by two real-life sisters (Maurrie Sussman, Sister #1, and Becky Clarke, Sister #2) in 1999 and now has more than 1,500 members--ranging in age from 25 to more than 90. They share an interest in many things: fly-fishing, cowgirling, playing poker for pennies and cooking great food in cast iron (heavy, but you don't have to go to the gym quite so often). Maurrie calls it "Girl Scouts for grown-ups" and declares: "We have more fun than anyone."
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The Sisters caravan to some of the most beautiful spots in the U.S. to camp, fish and ride horses. But there's more. The Sisters inspire one another to step outside their  busy roles of mother, daughter, grandmother, businesswoman, teacher, nurse, civil engineer or federal judge and to devote a little time to the true cowgirl within.
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I thought I was writing a book about a group of sassy women who decorate vintage trailers and go on cross-country trips. But, by the time I turned in my manuscript, I was hooked and now I'm Sister #1322. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I loved writing it.
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Irene and the rest of these sisters have got me hankering to join...In fact, I've got my eye on an old Airstream sitting in a oilfield tool yard that I would really like to get my hands on and Double D-it-up!   I'll keep you posted if I take the leap but for now, I'm relishing my very own copy of SOTF: Caravans, Campfires, and Tales from the Road.  (I'll post more pics tomorrow)

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16 comments

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    I really want a camper but I think I need to wait until I get the boys off to school. Maybe I can at least get a camper and start the redo!

  • Patti Eddington: May 16, 2016

    This is waaaaayyyy cool, gals! I am sending it to some of my adventurous Sistas to let them in on the breakin’ news of SOTF! What a great way to bond and see the country. I absolutely LOVE it!

  • linda ritten: May 16, 2016

    this is so cool! all the trailers are done so well ! my brother bought one of these last year in montana and he converted it into a hunting trailer for himself. i think he paid 50 bucks for it! he used deer horns for cupboard drawer pulls etc. he wasnt done with it when i last saw him. there was another one just sitting in a field not far from where he lived he had his eye on.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Yes, Jennifer, I never considered the “recycling” aspect of it! … and I do love what our God LORD created! Thanks for your comment and reading Double Talk!

  • shmuela padnos: May 16, 2016

    i have read about these gals before. sounds like fun. i would like to have a group of artists who travel out west together to pow wows and fairs with their airstream and art. art being anything creative. and of course nancy from sweetbird: free the sheep. yee haw too.

  • Jennifer: May 16, 2016

    What an awesome entrepreneurial idea – recycling, restoring, doing what you love and using it enjoy the great outdoors our God Lord created!

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Linda, post some pics next time you see the camper.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Robyn – great idea, now I just need the spare time and energy!

  • Robyn Beazley: May 16, 2016

    Oh wow! I look forward to getting my hand on a copy of the book. Cheryl, I hope you follow your gut and create your own masterpiece – the play by play as you design it would be amazing. Being only an hour from Montana, I’ll have to explore how a Canadian chic can take in some fun!?

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Ok Shmuela, – let’s get an art group together! Great idea!

  • Leslie #693: May 16, 2016

    I am a sister and we have so much fun. I had to wait for my kids to get out of college or at least get them close to it to become a sister. Just go ahead and become a sister and start looking for a trailer. You can always drive and stay in a cabin or somewhere until your trailer is finished. Decorating your trailer is so much fun. Each girls trailer is different. Watch our website and come to an outing close by and visit with us.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Thanks Leslie – all you gals are so friendly – I know it will be fun!

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    Juli – I like that, “ruled my closet” quip – never considered that, but I love the idea! Can I borrow your phrase?

  • Juli #444: May 16, 2016

    Cheryl, we DO have to meet. Double D has ruled my closet ever since we first featured it in Horse&Rider in the early 1990s. The July ‘10 issue has a Double D outfit in it…Dig Freedom with I Want You T-shirt. And how cool for you to be in Modern Arabian Horse. We horse girls love your style!
    I can’t even imagine how fabulous you’d make a trailer. The Double D brand on wheels—that’d be something.

  • Cheryl: May 16, 2016

    I think it was a ‘God Thing’… Irene was supposed to be there at that exact moment to see that cute caravan… and aren’t we glad she did?! Thanks Juli #444 – hope to get to meet you someday and see your trailer!

  • Juli #444: May 16, 2016

    What a wonderful guest blog entry, on how the book came to be and what it brought forth from a chance encounter.
    Cheers!

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