We took Lilly and Mike out for lunch to BSpot, the Michael Symon restaurant where Natty works. It's a casual burger joint whereas his other restaurants are more along the lines of fine dining. We assume this is intended to eventually become a small chain and make all the money. The big window was open to the sunlight and available for us to take a group photo on.
There are laminated rules on every table. Michael Symon must be very uptight. I like that.
There are six different sauces on each table. There's also a pickle bar.
His wife designed the decor. It's, um... let me just say that all of the separate elements are nice. I don't quite understand them together.
Natty checked her schedule while we waited for our order.
After lunch, we'd intended to go on a hike, but we got started so late that there wasn't time before Natty had to work, so we just sat outside in the sun and walked around Barnes & Noble next door. I bought a Janice Vancleave book for the boys and a new journal for myself with a gift certificate Natty had given me for Mother's Day.
The boys played on the lazy guardians to the mall.
We left Natty and took Lilly and Mike to see Squires Castle. Since it was Saturday, there were tons of people there, including folks setting up for a wedding. We explored inside, then went for a hike on the long trail behind the castle.
Lilly requested that Bastian give her a piggy back ride.
Up the trail, Lilly got to see our gnarly tree in person.
Just off the path, we spied this, but weren't sure at first what it was as it looked like a snake with really long front arms. For a second, I got excited with recognition that it was a skink, but then I realized that wasn't right either. It was a snake with a frog or a toad in its mouth. We all looked at it long and hard. Eventually, the kids misstepped and the snake got scared and dropped its meal and darted under a tree trunk.
The frog didn't look good. We decided to take off and hope that the snake came back to finish its meal.
The boys led us off the marked path, along a shortcut straight up a steep incline instead of meandering around the side.
We discovered giant mushrooms.
At one point, we looked back and discovered Bastian had given up. Eventually, he decided to rejoin us.
We took a rest for a bit, trying to catch salamanders under fallen logs and to get photos of larva that didn't come out clear. We discussed whether we should turn around or keep going as we'd reached the furthest point in the trail the boys and I had been before. Some women came along and asked about where the trail we were following had come from. We told them then asked about where they'd come from. They said they'd come from around the same place and that they'd been on the trail a long time - that it twisted and turned a lot. We asked about how long and they estimated 40 minutes. That didn't seem too long, and the way they'd said it made it sound as though the path went in a big circle somehow, so we decided to forge ahead.
We took a few more breaks to climb trees.
I climbed this big tree first and then started walking again. I looked back over my shoulder to discover Bastian halfway up, further even than I'd made it. I had to go retrieve him. Then Aleks followed us both up and I had to be very careful to get us all down.
On another brief break, we looked down to see fur coming out of the rocks in the path. I pressed on the spot with my foot and saw there was some give to it. We thought there might be a dead animal there, though that didn't quite make sense. Then we looked around and saw the fur in multiple different places. It seems that it's some kind of fungus or moss growing on the roots of the trees there. It was very strange.
After a long while on the trail, the boys got tired and hot and took their shirts off. They also started complaining heartily.
We saw what looked like lightning strikes between the complaints.
After what was definitely much more than 40 minutes, we came out of the trail in a place not at all where our car was. In fact, we were quite far away. We crossed the road there and found bathrooms and a water fountain near a shelter where people were having a birthday party. We sat and rested for awhile, then consulted a nearby trail map. We discovered a shorter path than the one we had taken that went back to Squires Castle and decided to take it. The children at this point were very impatient with us, but made the hike anyway.
We weren't totally convinced that the path wouldn't still take quite awhile as it was hard for us to judge distance and time. Luckily, it turned out to be quite a short path and cost us only another half hour on the trail. All in all, we'd been hiking for about three hours. Everyone was pretty spent and we went home to dinner that Jon had prepared for us.