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The Hunts Head West – Day 1

Moving from coast to coast is no joke, my friends. Especially when you add in five dogs and a moving truck. Fortunately, my mom volunteered to drive with us and help us keep our sanity.

Our trip itinerary looked like this:

Day 1: NC to Indiana

Day 2: Indy to Minnesota

Day 3: Minnesota to Wyoming

Day 4: Wyoming to Montana

Day 5: Montana to Washington

Day 6: Washington to Oregon


After checking for the umpteenth time that we had everything packed, we set out bright and early on our first day. Andrew and Sawyer manned the moving truck, while my mom and I chauffeured the rest of the dogs in the Jetta.


Our first day, we drove through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and on into Indiana. As we crossed the North Carolina border, a wave of mixed emotion washed over me. We were truly leaving which was crazy/scary/awesome all at the same time.


We made it through the fair state of Virginia without incident and entered its north-westerly cousin. Driving through West Virginia was decidedly not fun – my knuckles grew whiter with every crazy trucker that barreled down the road past us and it seemed as if we were constantly going up/down/around – anything but straight. I think my mom sensed my state of tension (my short, terse responses and general ranting at truckers probably clued her in) and she kindly offered to drive.

I breathed a giant sigh of relief as we entered into the flatter land of Ohio but my goodness! Ohio is the state that never ends!



The dogs didn’t seem to mind – they were fantastic passengers, napping like it was their job.





I had made reservations for us in Indianapolis and we finally rolled into our motel around 8 pm or so. After walking, feeding & re-walking the dogs, we settled in for our gourmet microwave dinners and man, did they hit the spot!



And Reeses cure all ills, don’t they? That wonderful peanut-butter-&-chocolatey goodness can turn a cranky, tired zombie into a semi-functioning human … or maybe that’s just me.


We really lucked out with our room – we stayed at a Motel 6 which gave us a pet-friendly room (without a limit on the number of dogs).  While not the prettiest place, the room was huge, which allowed room for the dogs to spread out  – although they of course all wanted to be on the bed. Such pampered little hounds they are.


This was the first time staying in a hotel for the girls. Sasha, the diva, made herself right at home and acted like she’d been traveling all her life – no big deal. Annie & Ella didn’t know what to make of it. Annie went into guard-dog mode, sitting straight up on the bed and watching the door like a hawk … or like a guard dog. We had the good fortune to be located right up front where foot traffic was plentiful, and given the semi-shady nature of the motel, quite a few people walked past late, late into the night. Annie felt it her duty to inform us of each and every one with a deep growly bark. After the first nine times this happened, we finally convinced her to lay down and go to sleep, which she did until about 3 am when she felt obligated to let us know that another dangerous criminal had walked past our room – that or the faintest wisp of a leaf had blown by. Ella’s solution to all of this was to crawl up under the covers and hide in the deepest, darkest spot.

After a rather terrible night’s sleep, we were up bright and early again but getting back on the road took awhile: we had to walk/feed/re-walk the dogs, repack our stuff (and the oodles of dog-stuff), eat breakfast, and walk the dogs one more time because there’s always one who refuses to go, and then of course track down some decent coffee because Heather does not function without that wonderful liquid heaven.

We finally set out with heavy traffic, pouring rain and no reserved accommodations …. what could go wrong?

Check back tomorrow to find out how our second day traveling across the country with five hounds and a moving truck panned out!



The Hunts Head West – Part 1

Time to dust off the blog and bring it back to life! So much has happened since I last wrote but rather than try to re-cap everything, I’ll jump right in at the start of our most recent new chapter.


What a whirlwind the last two months have been! Andrew flew out to interview with Oregon State University, a few days later they offered him the position and a little more than a month later, we waved good-bye to NC and started the journey cross-country!

After selling off most of our ‘big stuff,’ we loaded the remainders into a moving truck and said good-bye to our home in Brunswick County. Despite getting rid of so many things, we still had SOOO….MUCH….STUFF. It seemed to multiply everytime I turned around – ridiculous! Fortunately, Andrew’s parents bravely (or stupidly, depending on how you look at it :)  ) offered to help us, and we could never have done it without them.







These pictures make me tired all over again.

Packing an entire household is a lot like running a marathon – it’s an extreme test of endurance that feels endless and all you want at the end of it is soda and junk food.


After packing, we had to then clean the house which is always awesome but even more so after dirty shoes have trudged in and out a bajillion times and anxious dogs have shed several hundred layers of fur in the span of 72 hours. I may be exaggerating. But probably not.


Honestly, our very last days in the fair county of Brunswick are a blur of packing/cleaning/preparing to travel cross-country. Andrew and I barely slept and, in case any of you were unsure, sleep deprivation always makes you more organized, calm and clear-thinking. Or something like that.

The dogs were total champs during this crazy time. Sawyer and Wally definitely knew what was up – Sawyer was in full-on pout mode and Wally was my constant shadow. (In all fairness, this is not that different from their normal personalities but I could tell that they just knew). The girls thought it was mostly a big game, as in ‘Hey, what’s this pile of stuff in the living room? Maybe we should chew some of it up?” That was mostly Ella’s line of reasoning but I’m pretty sure Sasha & Annie assisted her in the destruction of several small items.



At the time, I couldn’t really process the fact that we were moving far, far away from our family and friends. I think I was afraid that if I did take the time to let that fact truly register, I would just simply break down. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely excited at the prospect of a new adventure but I can also be terribly opposed to change, especially when it involves saying good-bye to people I love coupled with the knowledge that I am causing them sadness. Saying goodbye to family, to close friends, to a job that I loved – that is no small task.

The unfortunate thing about not fully processing emotions when they first occur is that they always turn up later, all the more fierce for having been ignored – like when you’re all the way across the country and totally on your own.
So, now that I’m no longer a sleep-deprived cross-country move zombie, a few words:

To our family (Mom, Dad, Michel, David, Nicole, Robbie, Blaize & Grandpa Jim): I am so grateful that we lived in North Carolina these last two years, giving us the chance to spend more time together and create wonderful memories – Thanksgiving on the lake, RunDisney, squeezing everyone into our living room last Christmas, Kiawah, Provisions, oh so many things. I love you, I miss you & I’m grateful for your unending support. Andrew and I are so blessed to have such a loving family. But hey! We will at least get to see more of that crazy sister in L.A. now (right, Sydney?)

To our friends: We’re so glad to have known you! We are so grateful for your fellowship in Christ and the many fun times we shared together. We miss you all very much and wish we could teleport you over to our house every Tuesday at 6:30.

To the amazing animal rescue community of Brunswick County: What a crazy bunch of people you are! But wow am I glad to have known you. Working at the shelter changed my life and introduced me to so many beautiful people. I miss my ‘work family’ and ‘volunteer family.’ I do not miss driving the Tahoe or my freezing cold office.

That’s all for now, folks but check back in tomorrow to hear all about our incredibly well-laid out & organized drive across the country with five dogs. I swear there is only a slight touch of sarcasm in that previous sentence.


Nine crazy years with this kid

Nine years ago, we said ‘I do.’

Scan 7

‘I do’ to being best friends.

To love that grows and strengthens and deepens.

To inside jokes and deep belly laughs.



To growing up and growing old together.

To holding hands and sharing dreams.

To arguing over silly stuff like why the ending of Lost was perfect and not at all an easy out for the writers (glad we finally agree on that, cough cough).

To fighting, the loud kind, because we both lay our hearts on the line.

To making up with words and kisses and hugs, and forgiving.


To sharing lazy mornings over the french press and talking about any and everything.


To crazy, rushed mornings where we’re both running late but we always kiss good-bye.

To puppy training and dog walking and snuggles on the couch.


To talking to our dogs in the most ridiculous of voices and thinking we could totally make a cartoon out of this.

To loving Taco until our very last good-bye and grieving together.


To old jazz records and singing as loud as we can in the kitchen, making up words as we go.

To house-buying and painting and moving furniture – and then moving it again.

To kitchen remodeling and listening to audiobooks late into the night.


To you doubting and me believing.

To me doubting and you believing.

To Southport summers and Pennsylvania winters. To adventures in between.




To leaking washing machines and flat tires and lost keys.

To late night studying and copious amounts of coffee.


To graduations and new jobs and more school.


To rough patches and questions.

To growing closer. To daydreaming and naming pretend kids who live in our pretend house.

To tailgates and football and Happy Valley.


To travels near and far, and an adventurous spirit.


To cozy nights, curled up on the couch, watching old British detective shows while the snow falls outside.

To for sale signs and taxes and laundry.

To amazing dinners where we lose all track of time, just talking.


To takeout from our favorite Indian restaurant after long, hard days of working late.

To gardens and farmer markets and cooking together.


To me stopping to photograph every.single.thing and you waiting.

To you stopping to read every museum sign and me waiting.

To ice cream just because and birthdays and family gatherings.

To accidentally driving to Ikea in a blizzard (I swear….I checked the forecast!) and trying to interpret the mysterious pictogram instructions that come with all Ikea furniture.


To crazy risks and taking chances.

To failing.

To succeeding.

To sharing God’s grace.

To choosing each other, for always.


We’ve lived a lifetime since we walked out of that little chapel and greeted the world as Mr. & Mrs. We were kids, naive and young and exploding with hope.

Scan 5

Here we are, nine years later, and I am so grateful that we were blessed with the chance to start our lives together so early, to be able to share so much of this scary, beautiful journey hand in hand.

Our story is still being written … and I have a feeling we’re just getting to the good part.


love you chief.

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An admittedly ponderous birthday post

Today, I turn 30.

Thirty years old.

How can this be? Yesterday I was seven … and somehow, overnight, twenty-three years of life happened.



Animal Lover

I have never been one to shy away from an age. When I was growing up, I was proud to turn yet another year older. The funny thing is, the older I’ve gotten, the less I’ve really kept track of birthdays and age, often times having to turn to my husband and ask, ‘How old am I again?’

But somehow, this one is different. This birthday is resonating with me. This age gives me pause – it is placing a mirror of my own mortality in front of my face. Not in a gloomy, mopey why-is-life-so-short way. No, it’s in a  ‘Life is so astonishingly beautiful, Heather, and you better embrace it for all it is’ way.  And the thing is, I know the mirror is right – if the past year has taught me anything, it is that my life is beautiful, just as it is, and a gift not to be wasted.

When we listed our house in PA and made plans to move to Idaho and excitedly laid out a plan for establishing residency and adopting – my life was beautiful.


When our house sold and the position in Idaho was dissolved as if it never existed, and we were at a loss – my life was beautiful.

When we moved into the spare bedroom of my in-laws’ house and wondered ‘what next?’ – my life was beautiful.

When I broke down Christmas morning because I was not pregnant and not adopting or even moving toward the possibility of children – my life was beautiful.


When I woke up during the night, panicked by the questions I didn’t have answers to – my life was beautiful.


It just took me awhile to see the beauty, for my eyes and heart to fully open. I was so wrapped up in the expectations of others that I felt paralyzed.


I felt an internal pressure to define who I was based on my academic training and whatever success I achieved from that. When I was in high school, I was voted most likely to succeed, and for so long I equated success with education, with career, with esteem. I thought I had to pursue challenges, overcome them and make a huge impact – anything less and I would be a failure.

But this conflicted with what lay in my heart – at my core, how I want to define myself is not by what I do but who I am. And there’s a difference. I didn’t want to be Heather – scientist, academic, relentless career-woman. Heather – tired, stressed, stingy with happiness.


I wanted to be Heather – loving, generous, compassionate.

Heather – wife, daughter, friend and one day, mother.

And so I made a very simple choice to open myself up by giving, by listening, by loving.

Two seemingly innocuous but pivotal events occurred:

1) I started volunteering at our local shelter, photographing adoptable animals.

2) I went to church

These two things, so small at first glance, did nothing short of change my life. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic – just honest.

During my time at the shelter, I am surrounded by love on four legs (and on two legs, in the form of staff and volunteers). It’s impossible for your heart not to grow in such an environment. With my camera in hand, I remembered a joy and a passion that I had buried. And I took a chance, a risk, a dive into the unknown as I opened my own photography business, something that I never believed I could actually do. (Shameless plug: www.heatherhuntphotography.com)

At church, I listened. I didn’t let my mind wander as I have so often in the past. I wanted and needed God’s love. And He didn’t let me down. My faith grew, and with it, my heart.

And amazing things happened.

I remembered who I truly am and what matters most to me in this life.


I am imperfect, flawed and hopelessly powerless when faced with an open jar of a nutella and a spoon. I don’t have all the answers or even very many of them.

I am not successful by the standards of my academic self, and don’t get me started on the woeful state of my bank account.

But I know without a doubt that I am blessed beyond measure and that I have all that I need at this moment of my life.

I am married to my high school sweetheart and our love is stronger than it has ever been. If you have ever lived with your significant other in a single room, you know that you have two options – to take out frustration at the situation on each other or grow closer together in order to change the situation. We have grown closer than I knew we could and for that, I’m grateful.

I have not one but two families who love me very much. My parents are a constant source of support, love and encouragement and Andrew’s parents treat me as if I am their own daughter.

I have a pack of crazy but oh-so-loveable hounds and they make my life better every single day.

I have a home to call my own … and it even has my lifelong wish of a screened-in porch where I can drink coffee in the early morning or count fireflies as dusk fades into night.

I have a healthy, functioning body that does what I tell it (for the most part).


I am exactly where I want to be – surrounded by love.


And so, my big fear as I turn 30, is not that I’ll miss my twenties or wrinkles or gray hair.

It’s that I can’t possibly give as much love as I receive. That I can’t adequately express my gratitude for the changes that have taken place and for the ones that are surely coming. That I’ll fail to share my heart, which is full to bursting.

But I’m ready to try.




Help for Sandy Hook


The lives lost at Sandy Hook are weighing heavily on my heart, just as they are the nation’s collective conscience.

I want to lighten the burden of the families who must move on, who must somehow accept that their child/brother/sister/friend will not be there for this Christmas or any other. These families need time, precious time, to heal and to find peace. These families need love, unconditional and freely given, to remember there is still beauty in life.

Countless other share the desire to help, to support, and have established many, many wonderful ways to do just that.

I thought I’d share just a few in case you too would like to join in the global embrace of the heartbroken community of Newton, Connecticut.


  • Crafting for Cause : For the week of 12/17/12 through 12/23/12, multiple Etsy shops will donate a portion of their proceeds (ranging from 5% all the way to 100%) to the United Way of Western Connecticut which has partnered with Newton Savings Bank to create the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to provide support to affected families.
  • Publishing Hearts Connecticut Online Auction: An online auction through 12/21/12 to benefit the affected families and communities through Newton Youth and Family Services. Over 50 authors have donated a host of items and services, ranging from manuscript critiques to book packages.


Tons of virtual runs are being organized to raise funds for support – this is a great way to donate to the victims and their families and also spend some quality time with your own family.

  • 5k run for the Children of Sandy Hook: an event in the making which will possibly include a half-marathon, and will definitely include a global virtual component so that people everywhere can run to honor and raise money for the victims of Sandy Hook. The run will most likely take place in the spring to allow time to organize and get the word out.
  • Sandy Hook Virtual 5k: Take off for a jog around the neighborhood with your family this Saturday and join in a virtual 5k; donations made to Sandy Hook School Support Fund through Active.com
  • Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Half-Marathon & 5k: another virtual run, being held on Thursday January 31, 2013, to benefit affected families through the United Way of Western Connecticut. Miles can be completed anytime between now and 1/31.

Donate Directly

  • United Way
  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund: started by a former Sandy Hook Elementary student to raise support for the victims, their families, and the community. Funds will be donated to the school’s PTSA organization. Over $113,000 raised as of this morning (12/19/12)

 Share Words of Support:

  • Send a letter of condolence to:

Message of Condolence

P.O. Box 3700

Newtown, CT 06470


Lift the Newtown community up in your prayers, that they may find solace, peace, love.


We can all contribute in a meaningful way and help help this community pick up the shattered pieces of so many broken hearts. To remind us that we all have something to give, here’s a link to what our four-legged friends are doing to help: Therapy Dogs in Sandy Hook

Have a wonderful Wednesday :)



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