25 Things I've Learned at 25 (plus where we celebrated, what we did, and what we ate)
Yup, I turned 25! If you're following us on social media, you probably saw some pictures from our Mammoth/ Yosemite trip last month to celebrate. We've been so busy since we got back that I've barely had time to sort through pictures, let alone get together a post or even absorb the fact that somehow another year has gone by already. I'm almost 30! Okay, maybe not almost but it feels like that. 25 is definitely the first birthday that made me feel like I was aging - I'm midway through my twenties? When the hell did that happen? But it was a really great trip and we had a ton of fun and ate way too much good food. And now that I've got time to reflect, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned and hope to learn, and some of the photos and stories from our trip. Let's just dive right in!
We hopped in the car with Maddie early Sunday morning and made our way up to Lake Mary Campground. We sent up camp the first night, hiked around a bit with Maddie to stretch out our legs, and had a DELICIOUS dinner our first night of Beyond Meat meatballs in ariabatta sauce over pasta with a healthy sprinkling of nutritional yeast. My birthday wasn't until the 1st (Tuesday), so we headed to bed early so we could get up and hike the next morning.
On day two, we hiked and ate and hiked and ate and hiked...and ate! Seriously, it was a great day full of exercise, experimenting with fun camp meals in the JetBoil, hanging with the dog, bonding with my guy + spying some of the best views Mammoth Lakes has to offer. We cooked up a few dehydrated meals we had picked up at REI + were not disappointed. I particularly liked the Moroccan Bazaar meal from Made in Nature!
Day three was finally my 25th BIRTHDAY! I woke up to a chilly morning and a sweet snuggle from Alex + Madds. We layered up and hopped in the car first thing to drive into downtown Mammoth Lakes for a visit to our favorite, extremely-vegan-friendly café, Stellar Brew. As you can see in the picture below, we've made quite a few trips down to Stellar Brew over our visits (sometimes you just want food not cooked over a campfire, ya know?) and they some incredible food. Some of our favorites on the menu are the Golden Nectar smoothie (top left), the Ginger Tempeh sandwich with Lemon Tahini spread (top right), and the vegan breakfast burrito stuffed with tempeh & roasted veggies like kale and sweet potato in spinach wrap (bottom left). They also regularly sell vegan + GF baked goods and have CSA in the store. Its a really rad little place and totally captures the feeling of being in Mammoth; totally relaxed and friendly, but also really really good at what they do.
On the day we were driving up it was early and we had been packing late so I was totally scatter-brained when we were leaving. Alex had bought me cupcakes to eat on (or before, whatever) my birthday, but I left them on top of the car and we drove away and didn't notice until about an hour later. So yeah. Graceful, I know. Luckily I called Stellar Brew on our drive up and after explaining what happened, they offered to prepare a dozen vegan, GF chocolate cupcakes for me + Alex to eat and celebrate with. Which was amazing not only because it was SUPER short notice, but also because they definitely didn't overcharge us and they were quite delicious cupcakes. It really made my whole birthday feel like a birthday, so a HUGE thank you to them for saving the day! You can check out the cupcakes and my thankful/ excited-to-pig-out-face below.
After that, we drove up to Yosemite National Park, about an hour drive, and spent the day exploring streams, beaches, lakes, forests, meadows, the almost completely diminished Bridal Veil Falls, the bridges carved into the mountains over Yosemite Valley, the world famous Ahwahnee Hotel, and the the views to over Half Dome. We also saw a baby bear our exploring in the wild! We didn't see his mama, so we kept moving, but we did get a quick picture of the little guy!
After spending most of the day driving and hanging our in Yosemite we headed back to camp to snack on a cupcake and change into some warmer layers for an evening hike. It was my birthday and I wanted to soak up every bit of the day as possible! And Alex + Maddie were very obliging. We took the short hike up to McCleod Lake, which is mayyyybe my favorite place in California, and walked around the lake, letting Maddie play and snapping photos. It was a really fantastic way to finish up my birthday. The sun was setting just as we hiked back so were watching for emerging bears on the hike back but didn't see any activity besides ourselves. We had a really great dinner of rice, beans, and veggies prepared in the JetBoil with a side of Food Should Taste Good's blue corn tortilla chips. More cupcakes for dessert!
On our last morning we woke up early, packed up camp, and started the 5 hour drive back down the 395 for home. We stopped at a really great little juice shop in Bishop called Eastside Juice for acai bowls with lots of fruit + chia seeds. They were SO GOOD and the whole place was just such a great find. They had plenty of raw, vegan + GF homemade or locally-made snacks for sale and a bunch od cute t-shirts featuring slogans related to completing the challenging 220 mile John Muir Trail that ends after summiting nearby Mt. Whitney. Alex and I are hoping to do the JMT next year and would LOVE to stop here for our first real meal back! After hearing it was my birthday the day before, they even generously gifted us a piece of REALLY good raw cheesecake for the road. It was the perfect end to a great birthday weekend! So what have I learned now that I'm 25 and wiser than ever? You'll just have to keep scrolling for that!
Okay, I've given a bit of thought 'cause 25 feels like a big year for me. I got a COOKBOOK DEAL this year! Its exciting. Here are 25 things I've learned after 25 years of fumbling through life:
1. You really are in charge of your destiny. Work your ass off for what you want.
2. Never count on or hope for handouts - you and your work ethic are better off without them.
3. But don't be afraid to take help when you need it. And ask before you get to the breakdown-and-cry-from-stress stage, because you'll be way less embarrassed asking for help when you don't have mascara streaming down your cheeks.
4. Crying isn't a weakness, but respect yourself enough to know when it is a waste of time.
5. Everyone in your life that sucks is optional.
6. Don't be afraid to say NO. Also, don't be afraid to say YES. Whatever the answer is, it needs to be right for YOU.
7. Happiness is the ultimate goal. But to borrow a line from Christopher McCandless, 'Happiness only real when shared' - so don't be afraid to be happy with someone, too.
8. Try anything you want, you're the only one that cares if you fail or look stupid doing it.
9. Don't do things to impress other people, its a really great way to start hating who you've become.
10. Love your body and learn to appreciate each part of it. We all hate our thighs sometimes, so why stress about it? Confidence will affect your appearance more than changing the way it looks.
11. Treat other people the way you want to be treated, even if they don't always deserve it.
12. Be a good role model for kids and be nice to animals. That's just common sense.
13. Your body, your diet, your happiness: don't worry about other people judging what you eat. Having a good relationship with food can be hard, but really all that matters is how it makes YOU feel.
14. Fuck that boy in high school who slept with your frenemy. The second you leave high school and start to exist in the real world, you realize that you can choose to be around way better people than that and that real relationships should never involve being treated so disrespectfully.
15. Work your ass off in real life so you can go to your high school reunion and just be a straight up badass.
16. If you travel, do what the locals do. You'll have a way better experience not being a tourist.
17. Eat good food, and always try new food. Let other peoples recipes inspire you to create dishes you'll LOVE eating.
18. When you find someone who gets you - like just really gets you- let them know. And then spend as much time with them as you can.
19. People always say they wish they'd started saving younger. I'm 25 now and barely have a savings. I wish I'd started younger, too. SAVE!
20. But also spend money on travel. Life experience in priceless and will make you a better person.
21. Respect other people cultures, views, opinions, and rights. No one deserves any less.
22. Stop giving a fuck about things that don't matter. Let the small stuff slide and don't do anything you don't wanna do.
23. Someday you'll realize your parents aren't perfect, and they're just sometimes crappy human beings like the rest of us. Don't fault them for that.
24. Maintain relationships you appreciate, and don't bother with the ones that feel like work. True friends are hard to come by and well worth investing in.
25. Just do you. Be who you want to be, love who you want to love, and make yourself as ridiculously happy as you can, 'cause thats really all there is.
That's all the wisdom I've got. At least until 26. Thanks for recapping my birthday with me! If you're over 25- you probably know all this stuff already. If you're NOT, trust me. Alright, I've gotta get back in the kitchen. I have a cookbook to work on!