25 Things I Learned At 25

So, today I am officially 26! It has been a long year of ups and downs… with too many life lessons to really keep track of. I thought I’d make a quick post, listing just a few of the things I learned at 25!

  1. You can’t please everyone with your life choices, so just forget what others want out of you and focus on yourself.
  2. It’s okay to say no.
  3. Don’t sit in awkward places on mountains you can barely climb when it’s way past dark and you seem to have gotten separated from your friends.
  4. I am not meant to be a driving instructor, and that’s okay. (Unless you need to learn what not to do…)
  5. Sometimes, all people need is time. The people who love me the most will always come to support me in the end, even if they aren’t quick to support my goals at the beginning.
  6. I actually do have a little bit of musical talent!
  7. Eating less meat isn’t necessarily the hardest thing.
  8. Don’t go on a road trip with my friend Yia without a GPS in hand. Just don’t.
  9. Sometimes things change. Sometimes change is hard. It always has the potential to lead into something better.
  10. It’s important to be 150% open minded. Say yes to new experiences, even if it’s something you never really wanted to do. ESPECIALLY if it’s something you never really wanted to do.
  11. Wander away from the crowd and wander far. You never know what you’ll find, where others aren’t looking.
  12. Don’t expect everyone to have the same mindset. People will disappoint you.
  13. The owls are not what they seem.
  14. Not everyone who is your friend is to be trusted. Sometimes you’ll learn things that make you realize they weren’t good people and then you’ll have to let them go, and that’s okay. When it comes to friends, it’s always going to be quality over quantity.
  15. It’s okay to experiment with new things. Sometimes it will just help your relationships grow even stronger.
  16. Don’t worry so much about planning things out. Just set a goal and make it happen. Don’t stop until you make it.
  17. Maybe making friends isn’t really that hard. I mean, I made a friend out of someone I highly respect in the industry I’m working to break into…
  18. Be more adventurous with food. Go into more restaurants of cuisines you have never tried and order something you can’t even pronounce. You might be surprised.
  19. I can survive not being home for a long period of time, and my family will survive without me here too.
  20. School is really not for me. I learn better through experiences than I do out of textbooks. No matter how bad I want to be good at the whole school thing, I know it’s not where I’m most successful. It’s not a bad thing.
  21. WRITE THINGS DOWN. Do it or you will forget it.
  22. Don’t seek approval from anyone. If you want something, GO FOR IT. Never let anyone talk you out of something you truly want and believe in.
  23. There are always two sides to every story. Be open to hearing the other side.
  24. Trust your gut instincts, even when everyone is telling you you’re crazy.
  25. Sometimes you’re going to need to help others and risk friendships in the process. Sometimes you’ll lose friends over doing the right thing, and if they leave over that… they weren’t real friends anyways. Always strive to be a better person than you were. Every learning experience is an opportunity to grow into something greater. Don’t miss those opportunities.
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Adventuring in Death Valley

This weekend I ventured out to Death Valley National Park with a couple friends to see the Geminids Meteor shower! It was full of wrong wrong turns, missed rest stops, aching toes, but all in all it was a fun adventure!

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It all started on Sunday morning. I was too excited to sleep so I got none. I packed most of my things for the 1 night/2 day trip within an hour before going. My friend Yia was supposed to pick me up at 7AM, but she kinda has her own time zone and ended up about 30 minutes late. (Also partially due to the fact that she decided in the last possible minute to rent a car rather than taking her own). After picking me up, we went to the grocery store and then to pick up Jared, who decided to make us pay for being over an hour late picking him up. We waited like 30 minutes for him to come out. (Of his house!) We finally left town around 8:30-9. Two hours later than intended, but we had all day and no worries.

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From Fresno, we headed to Bakersfield. Jared and I spent a lot of time teasing Yia for one thing or the other… mostly her bad driving. I am impressed that we actually made it home in one piece. The drive to Bakersfield was easy. It was kinda funny because our main reason for choosing Death Valley to see the meteor shower was because that was one of the only places in the state that didn’t have rain or snow in the forecast, which is ironic considering California is meant to be in a drought. The entire drive there was nothing but sunshine. From Bakersfield to Death Valley was a much more interesting drive considering none of us have really been on most of that drive. I kept giving Yia the wrong instructions which is partially to thank for the wrong turns because she actually listened. (Take note, I am a very sarcastic person… NEVER take anything I say seriously. Just don’t.) Eventually Jared finally took the wheel after we stopped for gas and snacks. Thank goodness because it wasn’t that much longer that we were in Death Valley and for about 5 miles we were driving on a narrow mountain. On one side was the side of the mountain, other side was a cliff looking into the valley. It was a beautiful sight.

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The first thing we did was stop at one of the visitor centers and pay a fee and get suggestions from the ranger, along with a map. Our first stop was Badwater Basin because we saw all the white stuff on the ground that looked like snow. From a distance, it actually kind of reminded me of the ocean… if the ocean was in the middle of a desert. We wondered if the stuff on the ground was salt. I bent down and got the tiniest amount and tasted it just to confirm, I told them, “Yep! It’s salt!” Jared and Yia were like, “Melissa! That could be poison! You could die!” Nope, it was salt. Fun fact about Badwater Basin, it is the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level! The highest point in Death Valley is Telescope Peak, which towers at 11,049 feet (3,367 meters). Sadly, we did not have enough time to check that out. Our second stop was at the dunes. We spent more time hiking the dunes the second day though.

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After that, we went to Furnace Creek to go to the store before heading to Zabriskie Point to see the sunset. We got to explore a ghost town before going to park for the night. We parked the car next to another ghost town that was right next to an abandoned mine. We went on a bit of a hike up a mountain. It was really dark at this point so I thought it would be a good idea to wander off. I got lost and just a little stuck when I sat down and couldn’t figure out how to get up without risking a fall. Eventually (like 10 minutes later), by friends found me and we went back toward the car and spent the next hour or so stargazing. I saw more stars that night than I have ever seen in my life. We were right under the Milky Way and the view was just magical. Of course there were some clouds that came and went during the night. About an hour of stargazing later, it started raining so we got into the car. Yia passed out after drinking half a bottle of Mike’s hard lemonade and Jared and I just talked. We got bored and he had service on his phone for some reason so we pranked another friend into thinking I was lost. Of course she believed it. We called her to let her know it was just a joke. It wasn’t that long before the rain stopped and we got out and stargazed for several more hours. Throughout the night, we saw millions of stars and at least 50 meteors! It was a night to be remembered.

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The next morning, we only had a couple hours before we had to go home. We went on a hike on the Golden Canyon. It’s a narrow canyon with a mountainous view. It was extremely windy, too. It practically pushed us along the hour long hike.

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After Golden Canyon, we drove along Artists Drive and stopped at Artists Palette, which is probably my favorite part Death Valley and our last stop before heading home. We got a view of very colorful mountains that look as if they’ve been colored on with sidewalk chalk. It’s a work of nature’s art. The coloration is actually caused by minerals mixing with volcanic deposits. The iron salt causes the reds, pinks, and yellows. Decomposing mica causes the green and Manganese produces the purple. The colors are produced in a larger scale on the mountains surrounding Death Valley.

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Travel Gear

With me going to Canada in approximately 25 days, I have been investing in a lot of gear. Well, not a lot, but my credit card would agree to disagree. Since I am 92% sure I am done with the bigger purchases, I thought I would go ahead and write up a post talking about key investments, talk about how I like them so far, then follow up with a post in January in which I will talk about how they fared during travel.

I wasn’t going to invest in a travel pack yet, I planned to just use the rolling suitcase I already have. After a lot of research, I decided to just splurge a little and buy the Osprey Porter 30l. I think the retail value for this bag is about $140, but I got it for around $80 on Amazon. I decided on investing in a backpack because they are much more versatile and much better mobility. I received it a couple days ago and haven’t really tested it out beyond making adjustments so it fits me and making sure it’s comfortable. It is perfectly sized, I feel like it will have more than enough room for me to take everything I plan on taking.

Aside from a travel pack, I also wanted to invest in a daypack. I went for the Gonex Ultralight Packable Backpack, which you can find on Amazon for $12.98 ($25.99 Retail). It’s small, not really designed to carry a lot more than essentials. Unpacking it is easy but packing it back into the zippered pocket takes skill. I actually have used it already when I went to a friend’s house overnight. I packed in my pajamas and an extra shirt, plus a few other things. I personally loved it.

Lonely Planet Vancouver Travel Guide + Pullout Map. I was actually just looking for a map, but I decided to go for a guide instead because how can I go wrong with that? The information in this guide is awesome and makes me all the more excited to finally go to Vancouver!

And finally, a Travel Journal. This is an investment I wish I would have made before going to LA for a month in September/October. My memory is not that good at all. I wish I would have gotten one and forced myself to write in it whenever something cool/interesting happened, that way nothing would be forgotten.