It’s the Holiday season ... that time of year when our hometowns are busy with school music concerts, Christmas pageants and all types of special events. I always look forward to the local craft fairs, enjoying the unique folk art and ever intriguing craftsmanship of people. It never fails I’ll find some item that makes a perfect gift to put under our Christmas tree. I love too the decorations that fill the shops and the holiday music drifting through the air. It’s always such fun, when driving home after dark, to see the lights folks put up to transform their houses into twinkling fairylands. My rural town hangs red-ribboned wreaths from the light poles along main street and store windows are painted with reindeer ’n Santa or red and green dressed elves wrapping presents.
It’s exciting to take part in a community holiday celebrations and recently I was invited to come join the fun in the mountain town of Red Lodge, Mont. This winter ski-town has a grand kick-off to the Holidays on the first weekend of December with its annual Christmas Stroll. At 5:00 p.m. Red Lodges’ main street is closed off to traffic and the two day event officially begins. Musicians and special “treat tastings” fill the street, including Santa’s covered wagon giving rides around town. The merchants decorate their stores in Christmas sparkle and delight customers with dandy sale prices all weekend. There is a town-wide contest for the best front-window decoration, so up and down the main street, holiday scenes, tinsel decked sleighs and Santas of all shapes and sizes delight wandering shoppers. One of my favorite window displays was of a cowboy kneeling in the snow, dressed in his oil-skin duster and his ever faithful black and white border collie sitting beside him. They have laid a lariat at the foot of a wooden manger, an infant nestled there in the straw. This quiet sincere scene won second Place in the window contest. (I thought the cowboy looked a lot like Ronald Reagan and was tickled to find out they had used a vintage mask for the face.)
This year the Sisters on the Fly were invited to attend the Stroll, bringing their vintage travel trailers to display along the street. The SOTF is a unique non-profit organization, “where women can rediscover the little girl that’s still inside of them ... where she can be young again and act a little silly.”
In 1999, two real-life sisters started the group, which grew from a dozen members who met in Montana for fly-fishing, to now more then 3,000 women all over the United States and Canada. Each owns a vintage trailer and equally interesting story about their trailer’s history. Becoming a Sister is not difficult ... you don’t have to fish and you don’t have to ride horses and you don’t have to own a trailer BUT you do have to live by the Sisters motto: “We have more fun than anyone!” The motto is definitely reflected in the uniquely named and decorated vintage trailers, lovingly restored by each lady whose ages range from 20 to 90 and backgrounds vary as much as the trailers themselves. Sisters love an excuse to share their little “homes on the road,” whether it’s caravanning to a spot for camping or the many planned SOTF events all over the country every year. In addition to the fun events, Sisters on the Fly also help raise money for Casting for Recovery, the non-profit which sends women recovering from breast cancer to fly fishing camp. Here they have fun and learn how to cast a fly rod. It’s been medically proven this arm-motion helps in their physical as well as mental rehabilitation.
Being a Sister myself, I was delighted to haul my own trailer “Tin Tipi” to Red Lodge, along with eight other SOTF members of the Northern Rockies chapter. Up and down the street hundreds of people sampled food and warmed their hands by the bonfire-pits, while bag pipers filled the air with favorite Christmas carols. We ladies decorated our trailers, inside and out, in twinkling lights, tinsel and Christmas cheer. The merchants and strollers said they loved the Sister’s lighted trailers ... such a fun addition to the Stroll. I heard many a story of remembered family camping adventures while folks stepped inside my vintage 1970s Caveman trailer. My absolute favorite was from one gentleman who told me he’d camped in a similar type trailer at a campsite known for bears breaking into camper’s tents and trailers.
“I always slept in the fold-down top-bunk, suspended above the dining table and lower bed. I ended up rolling out during the night, landing on top of my sleeping mom and dad below ... my dad thought is was a bear ... the whole trailer rocked ’n rolled that night!” ❖