“Sisters Get their Kicks on Route 66”
by Sara Ritsch
(Oklahoma City, OK) - Sisters on the Fly is the largest adventure-based group of women in the country – and maybe the most fun. It began in 1999 with two sisters who loved to camp and fly fish. Today, Sisters on the Fly has about 7,000 members and over 300 participants on their most recent excursion from Chicago to Santa Monica, the extent of Route 66.
Bumping along in a line of vintage trailers and everything from a 5th wheel to a Prius, this 25-day trip with 14 stops was a huge undertaking for these women. Although more than 300 joined in the travels, only 30 of them stayed for the entire distance. These few women are dubbed the All the Way Girls, but altogether, the Sisters are just one giant family.
“We’re a diverse group of women,” Karen West says. She and her life partner, Susan Ford-West, are the authors of “Sisters Get Their Kicks on Route 66”, a photography-filled book that tells the tale of their entire journey. “It’s the most welcoming and open group of women I’ve ever associated with, with differences in religion, politics and sexual orientation. I’ve never felt more welcome in a group.”
The sisters have two mottos. “We have more fun than anyone, and we turn women into girls!"
“All of our personal politics and persuasions are set aside, and we come together to form a sisterhood and a community. We just get together and dress up, like a cowgirl theme – it ranks back to Girl Scouts. We earn badges for martinis, cigar smoking, ‘naked nymph’ badges. All kinds of craziness.”
The creators of this community, Sister #1 and Sister #2, are Maurrie Sussman and Becky Clarke. They lead larger groups of women on major river and fly fishing trips. Their mother, Mazie Morrison, or Sister #0, passed away the day before her 95th birthday and never got to travel down Route 66. Her life inspired the trip down that long, iconic road, so the Wests’ book “Sisters Get Their Kicks on Route 66” is dedicated to her, and the Sisters formed a foundation in her name.
Ten percent of the proceeds from selling their book goes straight to the Mazie Morrison Foundation, helping to give scholarships to women and children for outdoor education and for breast cancer recovery programs.
“Sisters Get Their Kicks on Route 66” is unique in that it is not only a travel book nor a coffee table aesthetic. It tells the story of these adventurous women who took a break from their onerous lives to travel and learn about themselves, the world and the nature of womanhood. Each of the All the Way Sisters tells her own story of trial and utter joy, and each page is colored by West’s professional photography.
Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City is holding a book signing with the authors of “Sisters Get Their Kicks on Route 66” on March 23 at 6:30 p.m. Full Circle is located at 1900 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
"Through photography and stories of courage and empowerment, grief and moving on, sisterhood and camaraderie, this photo journal will urge you to embark upon your own journey that has been tugging at your heartstrings." Karen West and Susan Ford-West
"Route 66 had a homecoming of sorts in 2015 when a caravan of bold and audacious modern-day Amelia Earharts piloted their travel trailers in a cross-country flight from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. Their legendary flight plan paved the way for any woman who's ever had leave-it-all-behind fantasies, which is pretty much any woman I've ever met, me included." MaryJane Butters, author of Glamping with MaryJane
The Gayly - 3/17/2016 @ 1:50 p.m. CST