A return to the West
by Ariana Brocious
Name Mary Jane Skala
Hometown Cleveland, Ohio
Vocation former journalist
HCN subscriber since 2005
Mary Jane Skala took some time to visit HCN a few weeks ago while cruising cross-country on a two-month-long road trip. After 40 years in journalism, she "saw the writing on the wall" and accepted a buy-out, leaving her post as senior editor at Sun Newspapers in Cleveland and heading West. She's been avoiding the interstates and taking the back roads -- checking out the scenery and enjoying Western cultural highlights, such as a junior high rodeo.
After interrupting our conversation briefly to sympathize with Sarah Gilman over a critical letter from a reader, Mary Jane described the rest of her impressive itinerary. Once she meets up with her son in Las Vegas, they plan to explore the Great Basin, Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon together. Then she'll head back via New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. "I guess I'll go home by Thanksgiving," she says, almost sadly.
Mary Jane's first trip out West was a family vacation in 1960, and since then she's been returning to the wide open spaces whenever she gets the chance. "The West grabbed me and wouldn't let me go," she says. The buy-out turned out to be a blessing in disguise, she says, freeing her up for this amazing solo adventure. And who knows, it could also be her chance to move out West for good. You're always welcome in Paonia, Mary Jane.