Big news…

It’s been a while since my last post here, but I think I have a pretty good reason for my absence.

I got a job!!!!

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Now that it’s all official, I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the Communications & Marketing team at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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U.Va. grounds (Photo credit: https://careers.insidehighered.com/employer/10481/university-of-virginia) 

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Life lately & Friday favorites

This is what my life has looked like the past few weeks: traveling around back and forth between North Carolina and Virginia (and briefly, Texas!) Boat rides and long runs and afternoon thunderstorms. Opportunities and disappointments. Possibility and uncertainty. Waiting. Catching up on reading. List-making. (Always list-making.) More waiting. Taking pictures of flowers.

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The most exciting news as of late is that we booked a venue and a date for our wedding next spring (!!!), and spent a wonderful, relaxing Easter weekend at home with family.

But mostly, my days are made up of alternately 1) planning way far in advance and 2) trying not to think much about the future in hopes of avoiding panic attacks. I’m reveling in unstructured time (so much reading; so many breakfast sandwiches) and then also loathing it, because truth be told, I am a structure-loving gal at heart.

This is a season of me trying to lean into fear and uncertainty….and succeeding and failing in roughly equal measure.

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Three days in Austin, Texas

A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to spend a long weekend in Austin, Texas!

Austin has been on my travel wishlist for years. Chris and I originally planned to visit during our cross-country road trip, but we didn’t end up making it there. So when my best friend Megan (who was there for work) asked if I wanted to join her for the weekend, I said, “UM, DUH!”

Three days in

Austin is known for being the blue dot in a deep red state. Home of the SXSW tech conference and the University of Texas’s flagship campus, it’s also the land of live music and breakfast tacos, street art and food trucks and swimming holes. Austin is, in a word, FUN. 6th street, the main drag that runs through the center of downtown, is lined with bars on both sides—most of which have rooftops and patios opening out to the street, making it feel like one big, never-ending party. (No wonder we saw at least 15 bachelorette parties in matching T-shirts roaming around.) Choosing a place to eat can be overwhelming, with endless options that run the gamut from traditional Texas staples (barbecue) to the trendiest ethnic/organic/local fare. The Colorado river also runs right through the center of the city, and is surrounded by miles of parks that are full of Austinites jogging, paddleboarding, kayaking, biking, swimming, strolling, doing yoga, etc. etc. This is a city that knows how to have a good time.

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10 tips for a dog-friendly road trip

During our big cross-country road trip last year (and in the months after), there’s one topic that we’ve gotten a lot of questions about: how we managed two months on the road with our dog, Callie.

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If you know anything about me, you know that I am OBSESSED with my dog. (Yes, I’m one of those dog people, and I will fly my freak flag proudly.) The truth is, like most aspects of dog ownership, road-tripping with Callie wasn’t always easy—but we wouldn’t have even thought about doing it any other way.

So for anyone who feels the same way and wants to plan a trip of your own, I put together a few tips and suggestions based on we learned from our experience. Whether you’re setting out on an epic adventure or just driving cross-country for a move, hopefully this can help you plan a smooth, stress-free trip for you and your pup!

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A backyard escape

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I like to talk about how in my free time, I love to be outside. But if I’m being honest, here’s where you can find me a big chunk of the time: wistfully browsing breathtaking photos of faraway places on Pinterest, skimming articles on the trendy new travel destination, adding new spots in Sweden or Croatia or Alaska to an ever-growing mental bucket list. I’m daydreaming about the next spot on my list before I’ve even stepped off the return flight from the last one.

Part of this is an inevitable side effect of travel. It’s addictive. Anywhere you go, you’re bound to discover at least 10 more places you want to visit. There’s the local spot that you never knew existed until you visited the tourist destination nearby. And the city you never thought much about…until your hostel roommate gushed over for 20 minutes. Then there’s the places you’ve already been—but you just need to re-visit that tucked-away courtyard to sip the world’s best latte one more time.

Travel has the strange power to make you appreciate the comforts of home…while simultaneously making you itch to discover someplace new. It’s a part of the deal, and it’s fun to imagine where you might go next. Until it’s not.

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In solidarity

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I had a post ready to go today about a hike we did in Peru…but it just doesn’t feel right. I may not have anything new to add to the fray, but I can’t ignore the significance of this weekend for our country (and our world).

To put it simply, I have not been impressed with how our almost-45th president has acted in the days since his election. Based on everything we have seen throughout the past year, I do not believe that he is fit to lead our country with dignity and compassion. If I am wrong—and I hope I am—I will be be thrilled to shout it from the rooftops.

But if I’m not, I want it to be known that I do not support bigotry and hatred in our highest office. I won’t be able to attend a march this weekend, unfortunately. But I want the record to show that I stand in solidarity with those who march for unity tomorrow.

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Snow day nostalgia

We’ve officially been back in the states for more than three weeks now. In this in-between phase of my life, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home—my first home. The city where I was born and the house where I grew up. Good old Greensboro, North Carolina.

This is the longest stretch I’ve spent at home since I was 21 and fresh out of college. But when I walk into my childhood bedroom, it feels like almost nothing has changed. It isn’t a shrine, exactly, but it definitely hasn’t become a home gym or anything either—let’s just say that my mom has yet to be converted by Marie Kondo.

Basically, it’s like an archaeological site of personal history in there. Boxes full of old diaries detailing my 7th grade woes, old birthday cards, photos, trophies, yearbooks…the more you dig, the further back it goes. If I’m home for more than a few days, it’s inevitable that, at some point, I’ll get pulled in. I’ll open up a cabinet or peek under the bed in search of a book or a misplaced sock, and suddenly it’s two hours later and I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by elementary school assignments, simultaneously laughing and cringing at some horrible poem I wrote in the 2nd grade.

Nostalgia is the strangest feeling. Part longing, part relief of knowing the past will stay where it is—the comfort of perspective. Sometimes, like when I crack open that diary from 7th grade, I’m searching for that feeling—the indulgence and security of getting lost in unchangeable memories; the satisfaction of snapping back into the present and appreciating how much has changed.

Other times, nostalgia reaches out on its own and smacks me in the face.

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Friday favorites & feelings

“What was your favorite part?”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question throughout the past two weeks. No shade to anyone who asked me—I would be eagerly asking you the exact same thing if our roles were reversed.

But man, is that a hard question to answer. Each time, I find myself completely overwhelmed with what to say. The first few times, I’m pretty sure I went with “Uhhhhhhh…oh my gosh. I don’t even know. There were so many things! I should have been more prepared for this question!” Eventually, I learned to throw out a few go-to highlights (hiking on a glacier in Patagonia; playing on sand dunes in Colorado; conquering a 17,000 ft. peak in Peru).

But do you want the honest truth? I still have NO IDEA what my favorite part of the last five months was. And the thought of whittling those experiences down into cohesive stories and sound bites is still overwhelming.

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My brain right now, trying to decide where to go from here.

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Saying goodbye to 2016

Well, hey there!

It’s been a much longer blogging hiatus than I planned—but we are officially back in the USA! The past week has been a blur. First, there was the crazy, wonderful holiday chaos of parties, baking, present-wrapping, and squeezing in as much time as possible with family and old friends in town for the holidays. Then, the inevitable post-holiday illness that resigned me to the couch for two days. Now, it’s our annual reunion with camp friends for the new year—and when we get back, it will officially be 2017.

I was planning to write a post with goals and resolutions for the new year….but honestly? I’ve never been much for new year resolutions anyway.

I just don’t love the pressure of it—the assumption that a new year is the only appropriate time to turn over a new leaf. Just one chance a year to work on improving yourself, that’s it! But what I do like is the opportunity that a new calendar year gives to look back and reflect on everything that’s happened in the past 365 days.

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Hoxworth family history in Cincinnati, OH

[Writer’s note: It’s easier for me to update Instagram more frequently than the blog, so follow me there @laurahoxworth to see more photos throughout the trip!]

Hello from Wisconsin! I have lots to say about our stay in America’s Dairyland (and sausage land…and beer land…), but I’ll get to that soon. First things first: I wanted to write about our very first destination—a quick stop that was special to me for personal reasons.

After setting out from Greensboro, NC, on Wednesday, we spent our first day driving through the mountains of West Virginia, and our first night car camping in Indiana’s Daniel Boone National Forest—where we got to our lakeside campsite just in time to see a gorgeous sunset over the lake (and where Callie had a wonderful time chasing katydids).

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On Thursday, we arrived at our first planned destination: Cincinnati, Ohio!

We aren’t doing a lot of city exploring on this trip (especially since we have a certain furry companion with us), but there’s one main reason why we put this spot on our map: it’s the city where my dad grew up and went to medical school, and where my grandparents lived and left somewhat of a legacy—and I’ve never visited before. So it seemed like the perfect stop as we made our way up toward Wisconsin.

It’s funny how family history becomes more interesting the older you get. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, but I’ve heard plenty of stories. And once I knew we were headed to Cincinnati, I started asking family members and doing a little research into who he was. By all accounts, Paul Hoxworth was a character: fiercely intelligent, curious, confident, caring, and nothing if not entertaining.

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