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Sisters on the Fly

During the golden age of trailer travel, from the 1930s to the 1960s, Americans found it easier than ever to get away from it all while taking all the comforts of home with them. A new type of vacation was born that combined the adventure and economy of camping without the need to really "rough it."

In the next four decades, however, people began traveling almost exclusively by plane, overflying the national parks and roadside attractions that were a part of their childhood memories. At the same time, motor campers became more utilitarian but less interesting, as wood and aluminum gave way to molded plastic and vinyl.

Now, Sisters on the Fly—the little girls who climbed into the backs of the station wagons pulling their families' Airstream trailers on cross-country adventures—are rescuing these relics from fields, ranches and farms. They are finding vintage trailers through want ads, in junkyards and on the Internet. They are restoring their finds to their original glory and creating comfortable spaces in which to make new travel memories.

"Our motto is 'We have more fun than anyone,'" says Maurrie Sussman (Sister #1) who, along with her real-life sister, Becky Clarke, (Sister #2) are the founding Sisters. They were sitting in a drift boat in Montana one day, happily drinking a glass of wine in celebration of catching an eight-pound brown trout and thought it would be so much fun to share the experience with friends. Maurrie won't say who actually caught that big trout because, "it is a fish tale, you know." She and Becky were taught how to fish by their mother, simply known as Mazie (Sister #4), when they were just little girls. Mazie also taught them the art of telling a really good fish story.

The two sisters started Sisters on the Fly in 1999, a group that soon grew to a dozen members who met in Montana for fly-fishing. That dozen grew to more than 2,000 women all over the United States, in Canada and Australia, each with a vintage trailer and a story about the trailer's history. Many of the rigs are from the 1950s and 1960s, range from twelve to sixteen feet in length, and contain between 100 and 150 square feet of interior space. Models include the popular Shasta, Scotsman, Aloha, Holiday, Aljo and Empire. "We find if to so comfortable to drag our own bedrooms with us," says Maurrie. "After a hard day of fishing and having fun, it is pure bliss to fall into your own featherbed."