My name is Terez, and I am a 25 year old college graduate who decided to stop the rat race, and travel the western United States in a Winnebago Brave motorhome. It wasn't easy to make this lifestyle choice, but it has been one of the greatest decisions I've made in my life. 

In some ways this journey feels like it was always in me somewhere, waiting to find its perfect moment to reveal itself. I was born and raised in Eagle River, Alaska and spent my days of elementary school exploring and creating with my peers. We had the most imaginative brains; we sought to find the beauty in the earth around us, always making and mixing things of the land with our bare hands. Often we waded the creek that passed my house and lived in dreamland of being natives in the area and living and scavenging. We didn't know what it meant to be sustainable or to use things as resources, yet that's exactly what we dreamt of and pretended to do. We hiked all over our town, building foundation and tradition along with a great sense of love for Alaska and an awareness always for what is around us. I spent family trips fishing and traveling around Alaska in our class C Winnebago, where I just LOVED laying in the upper bed as my dad drove. I remember looking out the window as I played with my polly pockets, ninja turtles legos, and beanie babies (don't worry, they all lived in a community together and nobody freaked out or made any silly bathroom laws). I listened to a Matchbox 20 CD from a childhood crush for the longest time in my Walkman, throw in some Brittney Spears and Backstreet Boys and that became the soundtrack to my upper RV bed ride-along adventures.

As we were growing into our skin, we were able to spend our summers at The Carboy's cabin, or as well all called it, the cabin. This majestic place needs no real explanation to those of us who understand its presence; its like a secret that we were just lucky enough to be told. We had annual girls weekends to the cabin, usually a large party held over Memorial Day with all the families, and basically any other chance we could find to get out there to be together--for close to 10 years I want to say. There were big fires, wonderful music and dancing, volleyball, THE SWING!! Movie nights, mosquito nets, delicious homemade food (some of my favorite to this day, you can’t beat Steve’s chicken!), and generally just all the things that make my heart flutter. Thank you, Carboy family, for always opening the doors of the cabin and your love to us all; I am forever impacted and changed by experiences and time spent with you all. Thank you Loni, Jourdan, Jade, and Lauren for being the best girlfriends a child could ask for, and even into our adulthood. I know no matter where we all are we will always have our roots and our love that ties us together. I am grateful to our beautiful mamas (and amazing fathers) for choosing to work through friendship and life together.

Along with the Carboy’s cabin, my family bought big lake property later on into early middle school years. It was amazing that the two properties were on the same road in Wasilla and only about 5 minutes drive from each other. After several years the cabin was passed on to other blessed souls, though it killed us all to say goodbye. Big Lake became the goal in summertime. My family (and when I say my family, I mean: my parents and soooometimes my brother and I if we could be bothered to get out of the water) tore that place up when first purchasing it!! Talk about a jungle when we got the property! Weeds and overgrown bushes/stalks/trees taller than we were, remnants of an old cabin that had burned up in the Big Lake fire decades ago, and just general mayhem! My dad (again the badass) built a road (HIMSELF, YALL!) into our property from way the heck out, installed electricity, and created the coolest summer hangout spot. I had a large group of friends camp out at the property the night of our high school graduation. There were about 12 or so of us, and memories were made…and also forgotten. We've had bbqs, parties, tanning days, you name it! Some of my best, and also a few of the worst memories are held at Big Lake.

I have always felt most at peace and in my own skin at the lake, at the cabin, home in Alaska, exploring, being free, living life. I feel better able to have conversations with people because of the groundwork laid by my parents and our families, and the time spent talking around the fire, in our homes over a bowl of popcorn, or at the ice rink over another of my brother's long hockey tournament.

I could go on and on about my experience growing up in Alaska and the wonderful friends who helped shape me. They are my treasures and greatest gifts in life. Being Alaska Grown is a part of me that makes me feel deeply tied to this journey of traveling in the Winnebago, and I carry that part of me and the people from home with me wherever I go. 

Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave your thoughts below, or follow my personal blog at TerezOnWheels.wordpress.com for more posts about my adventure. 

Published by Terez Neel