Carole Henry doesn't fish, but when the Tacna resident read about Sisters on the Fly, she knew right away that she wanted to join the women's organization.
It wasn't for the fishing opportunities. The group is known for its members' vintage trailers decorated in colorful kitschy themes and she saw it as a chance to commandeer her husband's old hunting trailer.
“We had a vintage trailer, my husband's hunting trailer. I thought I could redo it.”
She joined in 2004, becoming Sister No. 160, and the commandeered 1957 Aljo became “Calamity Carole's Tacna Twister.”
Some of the sisters' trailers are decorated with “a lot of imagination.” Henry is a big quilter, so her trailer is decorated with decals of quilt blocks on the outside and real quilts on the inside. The interior is made up in red and yellow colors with a cow skin rug. A dust devil is painted on the back, in a nod to the trailer's name.
Although the organization has about 2,500 members across the world, Henry, 68, is the only “sister” in Yuma County.
Several members recently set up camp at Shangri-La RV Park in Yuma and opened their doors for tours, raising $615 for Amberly's Place, a crisis center for victims of abuse.
The sisters regularly meet for outdoor adventures around the U.S., but it's the first time they traveled to Yuma.
“It was an awesome weekend, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who showed up to view our trailers,” Henry said. “The other gals had never been to Yuma so after the open trailer house, we drove past the air show, went to the indoor swap meet, Lettuce Days, the pow wow and downtown Yuma before having dinner at River City Grill.
“They were all impressed with Yuma. Plus on Friday we toured the (Yuma Territorial) Prison.”
So that's the proof that members don't have to fish to join the organization.
“I just like the sisterhood. You can do as little or as much as you want. But the more you're around them, the more you want to be with them,” Henry said.
Maurrie Sussman and Becky Clarke, real-life sisters raised by their “adventurous mother,” Mazie, established Sisters on the Fly in 1999 after a fly fishing trip.
“We were having too much fun to keep all the good times to ourselves, so we decided to invite some of our girlfriends to go along on the next trip,” Sussman explains on sistersonthefly.com.
The sisters' mission is to “offer empowerment and sisterhood through exceptional outdoor adventures.”
Henry's favorite outing is the annual dutch oven cook-off in Quartzsite. She's even won second and third place with her cobbler and potato recipes.
They sit around a fire, share meals, go four-wheeling in the desert and visit the flea market. And it's the only trip husbands and pets are allowed to join. “The men have become good friends through the years,” Henry noted.
“It's good for women, empowering. Some women had never had done anything alone. It has nothing to do with religion or politics. It's a really, really fun group.”
Members range in age from 21 to 94, with Sussman's mother the oldest. They live across the United States, Canada, England and Australia.
They participate in a wide variety of activities, such as fly fishing (of course), kayaking, cowgirl boot camp and college, wine tasting and horseback riding.
“Our goal is to bring women together to challenge themselves to be all they are capable of,” Sussman said. “It has been our distinct pleasure to watch women catch their first fish, tow their trailer alone for the first time and get it into its campsite, cook their first dutch oven meal and paddle their first kayak.”
She encourages women to join their adventures “and let yourself be spoiled rotten, learn to fish, to be a real Western cowgirl, run rivers and enjoy pure highway traveling fun.”
Although Sisters on the Fly are known for their colorful restored trailers, a trailer is not required. Some sisters prefer tents, bed-and-breakfasts or truck beds, according to the group's website.
The annual fee of $60 earns a woman an official “sister” number, full access to the website and opportunities to take part in many adventures with “a bunch of new sisters you didn't even know you had.” The only requirement is that members be at least 21.
Henry, a retired Antelope Union High School principal who now serves on the Mohawk Valley School District board, hopes more women in Yuma County will join the sisterhood.
“Then I wouldn't be the only one in Yuma County.”
For more information and to view a photo gallery of the restored trailers, go to www.sistersonthefly.com.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.