yosemite for my 31st

last year for my 30th birthday, i took a solo trip to cabo & rode a camel on the beach while whale-watching. this year, it looked like my birthday would consist of another solo trip, due to things coming up for some friends who’d planned to go (déjà vu of happened last year). but it turned out that a few of my friends could join me last minute! plans unexpectedly made better is the bees knees.

 photo by erin sullivan

photo by erin sullivan

i've wanted to go to yosemite for years. it's funny that i've been in california a lot over the years, but had never made time to visit the 3rd oldest american national park. so i finally decided i didn't wanna put it off into future terms any longer (i.e. "i would love to go one day!"). my birthday being in january typically means it's not always easy to find somewhere for me to visit, depending on the kind of weather i prefer. i live in colorado, & i love our winters here. but usually, if i'm traveling, i'd prefer to go somewhere with different weather than i'm enjoying at home. kinda part of the appeal of going somewhere different, right? well, i quickly realized january is the perfect time of year to go visit yosemite. apparently, it's too cold for most climbers, it's not ideal camping weather for most campers, & it's not peak season for visitors in general.

my friends & i had great weather while we were there! sunrises & mornings were pretty chilly, but the rest of the day was pretty great jacket-weather to me. when we entered the park, its granite icons, stunning waterfalls, & giant sequoias immediately captivated me. what incredible sights to behold. buuuut getting to cali for me wasn't so enjoyable. my early flight friday morning was marked as delayed, but turned out not to be, & i ended up missing it (which was still totally on me). i was unsuccessfully on standby for 2 more flights, hours apart, before i finally decided it'd be quicker to just buy a flight to LA & then ride with my friends to mariposa (where we were staying) from there. basically i spent all day in the denver international airport when i should have been spending it in yosemite. so that was fun. more like a bust & pretty much a waste of a day in my book. ohh the joys of airlines & airports & flights & standbys & all the travel things. on top of that, my friends jeremy & glenys had pretty rough days getting to cali as well. so we were all wiped when we finally landed around 11pm. not too wiped to not stop at in-n-out though. but who ever is, am i right?! it's basically a must after you land at LAX.

nevertheless, we eventually drove through the night to our hotel in mariposa, with quite a few stops on the way in order to pull over & sleep, cuz safety first. we were wanting to make it in time to catch sunrise in yosemite that saturday morning, but we figured being alive & rested were more important than catching a sunrise while risking falling asleep at the wheel. so once we made it safely to mariposa, we checked into our hotel, settled in, had some delicious complimentary breakfast, & cleaned up. then we headed out to meet up with my friend erin, who'd driven down from LA to join us like the wonderful always-down-for-adventure friend that she is. we did lunch & stopped by the visitor's center to ask where certain spots we wanted to see were. never underestimate the power of the visitor center in any park! some may think it's "cooler" to just go rogue & not ask directions, & i'll admit: i do enjoy figuring out stuff like that on my own as well. but there's nothing wrong with showing a worker a photo of where you're trying to go, especially if there's no info about it online, & asking how to get to it. they might even know of shortcuts or quicker, easier ways to get to spots than you’d have thought! some spots in yosemite were closed for the winter season, as expected; but most of the places we wanted to go were easily accessible with a little hiking. sunset that first evening was amazing. it was like the park was welcoming us after all our troubles in getting there.

erin had a mutual friend with a guy who lived in yosemite valley & worked in the park, so we got connected with the kind-hearted andrew! andrew met up with us for sunrise sunday morning (if you're wondering if we did sunrise every single morning of this trip... the answer is, if you hafta ask, you must not know 'bout me ;)). we ended up hanging out with him for the whole day. for sunset that evening, he took us to a cool spot that isn't as well-known but was absolutely amazing. we again hiked up to a breathtaking view, settled in to watch the sunset, & hoped the clouds would stick around to put on a lil cotton-candy-colored show. on the hike back down, i ran into my friend joelle who also happened to be in the park! aren't happy coincidences so great?

monday morning, we watched one more sunrise, & some other friends we'd made came by to hang as well. we then said our see-ya-laters (not a fan of goodbyes) to our new pal andrew. it's pretty awesome the friends you can make along the way when you're more go-with-the-flow. when the unexpected changes your plans, i've learned it's a lot easier to accept the things that are outta your control, because then you won't miss out on making the most of the new opportunities those unexpected things brought about. my yosemite birthday trip didn't start out AT ALL the way i'd hoped. it started out frustrating & not very fitting for a birthday girl, if ya ask me. but it turned out to be one of the most fun-filled & special trips i've been on. thankful for my 3 friends, erin, glenys, & jeremy, who took the time to come celebrate my 31st with me. also thankful for andrew's hospitable spirit. even though he's quite the introvert, he spent very extroverted intentional quality time with us in great conversation, & he got us discounts on food. which, if you know me, pretty much sealed the friendship deal for me!

don't let unexpected delays or changes to your plans determine the rest of your trip. decided to keep a positive perspective, no matter how bad it gets, & remember that it's just life. it's not the end of the world if i miss a sunrise i really wanted to see because of unexpected delays. i'll sometimes remind myself, it's just a sunrise. it's just a trip, & there will be many more! remember to be in the moment with people, & don't just be concerned with "getting a shot" or being in the right place at the right time. sure, grab a picture to remind you of the beauty around you, but then put the phone or camera down & make a memory instead. take a moment to just be. take in where you are, who you're there with, & take it all in. don't miss the moments that make being there actually worth it! when we adventure like this, it makes our adventures even more special & worth remembering, with friends we'll never forget.