Malia Lane decided, in 2001, that two weeks of vacation a year was just not working for her.
So, according to a report in the Petoskey (Mich.) News, she quit her full-time job, bought a recreational vehicle and since, has explored states ranging from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas to Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and now Michigan – all on her own.
“As soon as I crossed into Alaska, I pulled over to the side of the road and just sobbed,” she said, describing her feeling of accomplishment.
Lane, 60, originally of New Orleans and currently of Austin, Texas, said Alaska was stunning, but Michigan was something else entirely — something she wasn’t entirely prepared for.
She started her RV tour of Michigan’s coast on the east side of the state. Lake Huron made a distinct impression.
“I thought, oh, my God, the dunes! Oh, my God, the lake! Why would y’all lie to me!” said Lane about Hoeft State Park near Rogers City, where campers can see the sun rise and set from one vantage point on the park’s dunes. “I’ve lived in Maui, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Lane has made her living since 2001 as both a temporary legal assistant and a virtual assistant for lawyers around the country.
She also maintains a website called Malia’s Miles, on which she blogs about her adventures and reviews state parks she has stayed in for each state’s departments of natural resources.
“What’s great about Malia is that she’s a full-time RVer. She knows what RVers are looking for when they’re planning their trips,” said Maia Stephens, recreation programmer for the Michigan DNR. “She’s an invaluable resource for us.”
In particular, Lane has pointed out confusing signage that led her, driving a 36-foot Itasca Sunflyer, to a dead end.
“Also, Malia is not from Michigan, and has not been born and raised here, so it’s been great for us to get her perspective on things … not only Michigan’s topographical and geographical differences, but the different personalities you can find in each region of Michigan,” said Stephens.
Northward up the coast of Lake Huron, Lane said everyone she met along the way assured her: wait until you get to the Upper Peninsula.
And along with the kindness of a stranger, who helped her with her car trouble, Lane was about to see what everyone was talking about: for Lane, it was Lake Superior.
“I started getting it at McLain State Park (in Hancock),” said Lane, whose RV was perched atop a bluff overlooking Superior. “By the time I got to the Porcupine Mountains, I got it. … I got to the Porcupines, and it was zip. Stop. I don’t want to go anywhere else. … Alaska was my biggest accomplishment. I saw lakes melting there. I saw the biggest baddest glaciers. But I would never live there. I would consider living in the Porcupines — that’s my heart’s home.”
But wait — a woman, alone with her RV? Full time? How does she do it, and is it vacation every day, like eating ice cream for every meal?
Hardly, she says.
“Look, people think I’m brave. I’m not. I try to make that clear,” she said. “I get depressed, I get anxious, I get scared, shaking in my boots. But please understand, don’t let fear stop you. It can pause you, and you can go under it and around it, but don’t let it stop you.”
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