A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.Proverbs 17:22
Sisters on the Fly, an international organization boasting a membership of over 12,000, is a group of women, most of them with vintage campers, who travel, fly-fish, kayak, camp, make quilts, host chili-cook-offs, organize fundraisers for those in need, do community projects, and have a motto, We have more fun than anybody.
SOTF ladies road trip to antique shows, caravan to Alaska, deliver supplies to hurricane and flood victims, raise funds for cancer research, and dress in outrageous costumes including pink and blue tutus with sparkling sequins and real lights that blink on and off, just for the fun of it.
These ladies share everyday life happenings, headaches and heartaches, triumphant achievements, professional milestones, the birth of children and grandchildren, holidays, regular days, and even recipes suitable for cooking over the campfire such as Turkey in a Trash Can. (It serves 12 to 15 and is easier than roasting one in the oven.)
Their common denominator is owning a camper, a tent, or even just a sleeping bag. They meet at campgrounds, tree-lined parks, grassy meadows or lakeside resting places. They laugh around campfires, encourage, uplift, and sanctify the space they envelope with their lively, loving, embracing presence.
Some women find their dream camper in the classified section of local newspapers, on Craig’s List, or RV internet For Sale sites. However, most of these enterprising, extremely creative ladies find vintage campers from a variety of other highly unlikely places. Covered in weeds behind a garage, forgotten in the back of a barn, abandoned in a pig enclosure, or sitting in a vacant lot, are just a few examples.
“My friend and I were hiking over some wooded ground on a farm of an elderly relative when we came across an abandoned camper,” said Lydia, a Canadian. “We were so shocked. It was covered in so many vines, broken tree limbs, half hidden in the underbrush we weren’t even sure what it was at first.”
Upon closer inspection, the girls discovered it was a travel trailer. The landowner gave them the camper with a clear title for just removing it from the property. I saw pictures of the free RV, and thought the girls overpaid, but then, I lacked their vision and young energy they apparently had great amounts of, as well as available time.
It was a good thing Lydia knew how to operate power tools because this project required a total overhaul from welding a new frame to tearing out and replacing the floor and interior walls. As they say, it takes a village, and indeed it did.
For the following several months Lydia was fortunate to have a wide circle of talented friends. If the little RV had been a sailboat, it would have required a total renovation from stern to bow. As it was a camper, then we can say bumper to tow bar, with the bumper and tow bar both needing to be replaced, as well as just about everything in between.
This was a work of love, bringing many together for a common cause, and resulting in a beautiful restoration.
“I use the camper as my get-away place,” says Lydia. “I made it into a great escape of personal space I can call my own. Sometimes I travel cross-country and sometimes I just park it under a shade tree. Wherever it is, becomes my quiet alone special place of calm.”