After doing a lot of hugs and thank yous, we got ready for our very early morning hike
. When we asked what the commotion that morning had been, the drivers told us that this morning they tried to get into our campsite, but found it was barricaded. When they asked what was going on, the guy said he was a security guard for Disney, who had booked out the whole campsite to use for filming the Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp! We were all like, woooowww, but then went, well, er, who said Disney could steal our campsite?!!? The drivers had been saying it was one of the best campsites, and I was excited to be there on my birthday. So apparrently Green Tortoise were trying to sort it out with Disney, as we had the campsite reserved.
Meanwhile, we started our hike. We left by 7am, as it gets crazily hot in Arches later in the day. Far too hot to hike! So while it was cool off we went. It was a fun hiking, seeing some of the amazing stone arches on the way. We had to do a bit of scrambling over rock too, which scared me slightly, but was good fun. After doing lots of posing in the arches, we made our way back, as it was starting to get hot. It was only about 10.30!
After leaving Arches, we headed to a cool little town called Moab, where we all did some much needed laundry! How glamourous! I was even bought ice cream and then taken for lunch by my friends
. So nice. We were also still waiting to hear where we'd be going to camp that night. Disney had said that they were expecting huge lorries carrying equipment to be arriving at camp and unloading at 3am. The Bureau of Land Management were told, and said they'd enforce our right to be there if we wanted, and give us a guard, but we thought it wasn't worth the trouble, and we didn't want to be there if they were going to be bringing trucks in all night. So we let Disney take it, and the Governer of somewhere or other who was friends with Jimmy and had been on the Green Tortoise found us another campsite, which was actually pretty nice (just the toilet was grim, but nothing knew there!)
So we set up camp, and started celebrating my birthday! Sadly we couldn't have a campfire there, but we spent the afternoon playing loads of card games, chatting and drinking lots of beer. Then I was just getting some stuff out my big bag when I heard 'Happy Birthday' start up again, and the girls brought out a huge chocolate cake, with Happy Birthday Rowan written on it and candles too! I was sooo happy, it was so lovely of everybody! Of course I ate half the cake myself - god knows I love chocolate cake! I had such an amazing evening with everybody, it was fantastic. That night was so damn hot though. I've never had to sleep in those sorts of temperatures, so it was extremely uncomfortable! But what a truly amazing birthday with some awesome friends, in a beautiful place! I couldn't have asked for anything more (except perhaps Johnny Depp coming to wish me Happy Birthday and giving me a kiss!)
I woke up when it was still dark to hear a conversation between Lukas our driver and a strange man. I rolled over, looked out the window and saw this stranger standing in front of a barricade. He was saying stuff like 'Who are you guys? I'll have to talk to my boss.' I was still half asleep so didn't really know what he was chatting about, and went back to sleep. When I woke up properly, we were in the desert still, with a red sun rising, and it was my 19th Birthday!!! We were in Arches National Park, what an awesome place to spend my birthday! We all got up, and started making breakfast. Then as I was eating, I heard 'Happy Birthday' start up, and my friends Linda and Olga came over with a card and a present. The card had been signed by everyone on the bus, and the present was a knew pair of flip flips, as mine had broken. It was so sweet, I almost cried!