Updated: Oct 9
Children around the world collect Trailheads Hiking Cards and trade them. When they are lucky enough to assemble a complete set of all six Trailheads, they call it "A Dirty Dozen Feet." Well, kids, we're happy to report this week we had A Dirty Dozen Feet in the flesh, marching forward and attacking Kolb's Farm Loop Trail in Marietta.
This site isn't far from Kennesaw Mountain. We had hiked the Big and Little Kennesaw trails before (read about them here). Now we would journey into Kolb's Farm, the site of a bumper crop of dead soldiers on June 22, 1864.
The Confederate army dug in here, forming a long defensive line to repel the advancing Union troops under the command of General Sherman. (The Sherman pictured above may or may not be accurate--history isn't exactly our strong suit.) The South's stronghold was on Kennesaw Mountain, protecting Atlanta. Sadly for the Kolb family, their farm was on the way to the mountain. The attacking union forces from Illinois and Ohio worked to outflank the Tennessee Rebels. As usually happens in these cases, a bloody battle ensued. And if you hike here, you'll see memorials to the fallen.
Fifty years after the bloodshed, the state of Illinois erected a beautiful memorial to the 480 Federal Troops killed or wounded. Roy and Brad marveled at the excellent typography on this massive monument. The inscription is all caps, minus-leaded, justified, with perfect spacing. A late copy change here might get you sent to the brig.
Writers George and Patrick would have preferred the inscription had been done in upper and lowercase letters, making reading easier. Thus the battle between designers and writers continues. No blood was drawn in this viscous war. Yet.
The hiking trail even has a gravesite for "An Unknown Soldier." His remains were discovered in 1938, for crying out loud.
Trailheads absorbed this tragic history on a gorgeous Georgia day with California weather. We walked where so many soldiers fell. And where soon, one of our own would fall. More on that later.
It seems all the world's problems we had brilliantly solved in our last outing bubbled back up, so we addressed them and came up with sensible solutions––again. Now, if only people would listen to us! Perhaps we need to wear microphones and turn this into a live, weekly podcast. Backers? We'll sell ads to MeUndies and SquareSpace.
Now back to the hike itself.
Trail Master Guy led his charges along the pleasant trail beneath a thick canopy of trees. As we entered the dark undergrowth, our eyes adjusted to shadow and our bodies to the cooling shade. Fall, it seemed, had arrived. At least as long as the sun wasn't overhead. The exposed roots were minimal, but the path seemed to be an uphill slog no matter which way we went. How is that even possible? We suspect Mother Nature felt we needed the exercise to earn our barbecue.
We met other hikers along the way, Elvis and Fio met some fellow canines, and we suspect the miserable mutts trashed the idiots at the end of their leashes––the ingrates!
Brad was a fashion plate in his custom, color-coordinated Trailheads logo burgundy tee and designer hat, and cute, barbecue-themed socks. You can secure your Trailheads uniform here and help good causes in the bargain. You'll look good and feel good.
The dogs found some water to play in, then shook their wet fur dry on us. We hiked on, wondering if Guy knew where he was going. Was he marching us to our graves? This hike has a bad history of that! We certainly hoped Guy didn't expect us to dig our own holes. We were pooped.
Another hiker came toward us with bad news. The trail ahead was blocked. Guy wanted to scale the blockage (trespassing is his way) and blaze a new trail beyond. We wanted lunch. So he looked at our GPS coordinates on his iPhone and said we had a three-mile hike back to the cars. We began marching our retreat, our stomach grumbling and digesting some infrequently used internal organs.
Since the way out seemed to be constantly uphill, the way back would be downhill all the way, right? Nope. Uphill again. Maybe oxygen deprivation had fooled our brains. Perhaps the Earth's surface itself had shifted. Was this a devious plot designed to make us get exercise? We had many theories.
Along the way, Brad stepped on a stump by the path and went down. Gravity 1, Brad 0.
We were shocked by his action––falling is Roy's M.O.–– after all, his nickname is "Roy Tumbles." Was Brad infringing on his brand? Would Roy sue? As we picked up our fallen comrade, we wondered these things, and Brad dusted himself off. Later, Roy decided perhaps his nickname should be "Brad Bumbles."
That sounded good to us, but we suspect that somewhere a lawyer was swearing--there'd be no lawsuit! Of course, Elvis saw the stump and deftly avoided it. But did he warn Brad? Nope, "man's best friend" blocked his view of the impediment, which brings into play the idea of malicious intent––but that's for a higher court to decide. Hmm, maybe we'd need that lawyer after all.
Six famished, exhausted Trailheads, "A Dirty Dozen Feet," stumbled into the parking lot after their strenuous six-mile trek. There was a Marietta cop there. We hoped he wasn't looking for us. Perhaps he spotted Guy and Fio impersonating rangers?
Since the police are employed to protect and serve, we asked the kind officer for his recommendation of the best barbecue place nearby. He smiled and said. "Major Q's BBQ on Dallas Highway. Tell them Kevin sent you."
We said, "Thanks, copper! That's mighty swell of you. And you'll never take us alive!" Maybe we imagined the gangster dialogue. Had Kevin heard us say that, he'd probably say he was too young to remember Edward G. Robinson or James Cagney but older fellows say all sorts of things he doesn't understand.
Regular readers know we like barbecue joints with catchy slogans. Here is Major Q's: "BBQ so good that your taste buds will stand at attention." There's even a cartoon logo of a pig in a military uniform saluting. Nice. We are big fans of swine in costumes.
You can see Brad and Fio were impressed.
Ken Holland is the owner/operator, and he's a proud veteran, and we were proud to be his patrons. Unfortunately, the restaurant is in a large plaza with no outdoor seating. Since Elvis and Fio have atrocious table manners and don't tip well, we couldn't take the dogs inside. We got our orders to go, which was a pity because Major Q's interior has acres of seating, comfortable surroundings, and eclectic decorating, including many barbecue awards.
While we waited, some diners at a table called George over and asked what "Trailheads" were. Fifteen minutes later, George was still waxing eloquently on the importance of purposeful hiking, hydration, and Baron de Coubertin's influence on the modern Olympic Games. ("Have you fellows read my book?") The barbecue lovers were sorry they asked.
The two women working the counter (Ms. Holland and their daughter) were friendly and had welcoming smiles. We told them Kevin The Cop sent us, and they said he's one of their favorite customers.
We said, "Yeah. That mug's jake for a flatfoot.” They looked at us puzzled.
Our orders arrived in brown paper sacks, and we got in our vehicles to find a nearby park. We managed to make the short commute much longer by executing wrong turns. At one point, Guy pulled off the road to recalibrate his bearings. The approaching cars sped up when he emerged back onto the highway. Cobb Co. drivers like playing dodge cars. We waited for the motor maniacs to pass and eventually found our way to a pretty park next to the plaza we'd just left.
We sat at a picnic table in the shade and opened our paper sacks like little kids ripping into their Christmas presents. Patrick and Steve got sides of the beef brisket chili (made with kidney beans, not the bean-less Texas style). The chili was excellent, with a spicy flavor that didn't overwhelm.
The pulled pork was perfect: tender, smokey, and satisfying. We had packages of barbecue sauce that appeared to be mini plasma bags. Fortunately, we didn't have to rig an I.V. to eat the precious liquid––we ripped the bags open and dressed the meats. The sauces had a nice peppery kick.
Brad and Guy had the brisket burnt ends and raved. "The best yet," Brad declared. Roy said he loved his pulled pork. Then both men fell, Roy tumbling, Brad bumbling. We kid. They stay seated. The clumsy men were impressed with their fried okra (it's the real stuff, not from a freezer bag). And the creamy mac 'n cheese was more like penne & cheese––big, fancy, and delicious.
George continued on his ribs bender and finally got a batch that tickled his ribs. The lean baby back meat fell from their bones, and he picked those babies clean. There was no comment of "too dry!" today.
George was in pig heaven.
The guys who had the coleslaw raved about it. The stuff has pineapple. Pineapple! Was this Don Ho's secret recipe? The Hawaiin fruit lent a sweet flavor that made the cabbage special. Somehow this devolved into an in-depth discussion of how Wo Fat always managed to escaped Steve McGarrett's clutches on Hawaii Five-0. You know, typical boomer conversation.
The hush puppies and corn muffins were phenomenal. The corn muffin had a fantastic melt-in-your-mouth sweet flavor. Like candy off the cob. Officer Kevin had mentioned the muffin specifically, and he has a future as a food critic after retiring from the force.
The bottom line is Trailheads are crazy big fans of Major Q's BBQ. We recommend you make tracks here and have your taste buds stand at attention.
But watch yourself–– those Cobb Co. drivers are ruthless.
Rating: Four Ribs*
Major Q BBQ & Catering
3600 Dallas Hwy, Suite 130
Marietta GA 30064
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing.
Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.
Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.