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Trailheads Attack Boundary Waters Of The Hooch, Survive Dog Attack, Invade Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

No, there wasn’t a blue moon, and Halley’s comet had not returned, but amazingly, all six Trailheads and their three canine companions rallied for this week’s hike at Boundary Waters Chattahoochee Loop.

It’s been a long time since the gang was all here––Guy, George, Steve, Brad, Roy, and Patrick. We wore some Hike The Hooch gear that you can buy here. ALL profits benefit Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy, protecting and preserving our favorite spots. Buy some gear and look good while doing good.


Elvis, who had been limping for over a week, bravely returned to the trails. Brad purchased a stairway from his new electric Fisker to the ground, and the big black dog descended it cautiously.

We thought Brad might also have an electric wheelchair for Elvis, but he did not. Bad, Brad, bad boy! The dog would have to make it on his own. Fio was excited to see Elvis and Nilla. Perhaps the three dogs could keep the six humans in line.


We began this hike on the wide sidewalk. While there is no need for walking sticks on a level surface, Roy and Patrick had theirs in hand. One never knows when a weapon is needed, and their sticks have been outfitted by Q with pop-out stiletto knives, .22 caliber bullets, and a tiny atomic bomb that produces a Porcini mushroom cloud of nuclear destruction. James Bond’s got nothing on these guys.

 We soon encountered a potential roadblock: a fallen tree trunk that, fortunately, had split. Since Roy is prone to tumbling (see his Roy Tumbles comics here), we cautioned him to watch his step. The group proceeded as if they were negotiating a minefield.


The sidewalk bisects a Frisbee Golf course. Those skilled in this sport prefer to call it “Disc Golf” because that name makes it seem more adult, but let’s face it––the things being hurled look like Frisbees.

Rather than holes, this sport has wire baskets to catch your flung disc. Steve has played "disc golf" with one of his sons and says it is fun but challenging. We suggested he needed a seasoned caddy’s advice and perhaps a sports psychologist to overcome his yips.


Trail Master Guy led us off the concrete path and onto a lush natural carpet of dirt, leaves, and exposed roots. Now, those walking sticks would be put to good use. Boundary Waters Chattahoochee Loop is a pretty trail that snakes around, and we climbed some steep elevations that felt a little too much like exercise. We hiked and hiked and hiked.


Along the way, we encountered patches of what we feared could be deadly quicksand––how Mother Nature feasts on human meat––her cruel way of removing pieces from the game board. We became frightened, with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Trailheads have documented our intense fear of disappearing in quicksand (read all about it here).

How can anyone forget what quicksand did in “Blazing Saddles” or “Gilligan’s Island?” We stepped cautiously, not tempting fate and becoming tasty appetizers.


A sign pointed to the Chattahoochee Loop. Guy said this would take us down by the river, and then we could circle back. But it was already 11:10, and Brad said he had work to do that afternoon, and since we had already logged over two miles, we’d get a healthy four-mile hike by doubling back now instead of doing more.


Trailmaster countered his argument by saying if we did the Hooch Loop, we could get in a five to six-mile hike––and get a load of this––he said it as if hiking that far was a good thing! Soon, the bellyaching began.

“But we’re hungry. It's almost feeding time."

“We’re scared. Is that our shadow? Yikes!!!”

“What if when we get to the water, there are river monsters with invasive tongues and sharp teeth that will eat us?”

Once again, our wailing ang teeth gnashing alarmed the woodlands creatures.


Still, Trailmaster pleaded his case for taking longer hikes. His outdoor companions in fashionable footwear looked at him as if he were speaking lunatic gibberish or explaining the benefits of a universal life insurance policy.

Eventually, the children won the argument. We would begin returning to the safety and comfort of the parking lot and heading toward what we really came for – barbecue.


Onward, we retraced our way, hoping to pick up the scent of smoked meats or savory side dishes. We returned to the wide sidewalk and approached the fallen tree split into two sections. And in the flash of a mosquito’s wing, Roy tumbled down to the unforgiving cold concrete. He explained that Nilla’s leash had tripped him. Steve was walking her, and the dog darted in front of Roy, taking him down. Nilla thrust a victorious paw in the air.


With Roy's ego aching and pride crushed, his arm began blossoming with bruises. Tumbles immediately grabbed his iPhone and began calling for a slip-and-fall attorney (the ones who advertise on billboards by the highway).

Concerned Trailheads helped the bearded one up to his feet as cold-hearted Patrick snapped pictures of the embarrassing moment, memorializing the event for all to see. He is such a mensch. Each photo is being blown up to provide evidence in the coming Tumbles v Nilla lawsuit. It may go as far as The Supreme Court.


Rallying in the parking lot, we faced the most crucial decision of the day: where to go for our barbecue. Surprisingly, the choices in Douglasville are limited, and since Brad had work to do later, we headed into the city for a visit with Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. We had been here once before; read about that experience here.


This joint on Piedmont Avenue opened in 1990 and was named after one of its founders, Matt Harper, who was not fat. We wondered if the restaurant opened today, would it be called “Plus-Size Matt’s Rib Shack” or “Body Positive Matt’s Rib Shack?" Neither of those monikers has the zing of “Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.”


As the name "Shack" implies, the quarters here are cramped. There’s a metal wall plastered with stickers. Trailheads has one of ours on there somewhere.


The main wall has a menu board with a collection of blues artists’ portraits, concert posters, and performance pictures.


The back wall displays a mural of blues artists as the backdrop for the small stage where blues artists play in the evening, creating their smoke.


Ordering at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is easy. Walk in and belly up to the counter (the people working here are as friendly as can be), place your order, pay your bill (leave a generous tip; these folks work hard for the money), grab your table marker (with a pic of a famous Blues artist), and grab a seat. The lovely counter lady assured us our grub would be coming soon.


We grabbed outdoor seats so the dogs could watch us eat and beg for table scraps. Good luck, Nilla, getting anything from Roy-- monitor weather reports of snow in hell. The chow landed on our tables as Trailheads hunkered down and got to serious work.


The ribs were delicious, with tender meat and a nice smoky flavor. These large St. Louis-style ribs had more fat than we remembered from our last visit. We collected the fatty remnants for the dogs––they aren’t watching their cholesterol. Our only suggestion for improvement would be finishing the ribs longer on the grill for a caramelized bark. We love barks in our bites.


Guy gave his smoked chicken a rave review. He loved the tender, smoky meat and its crispy, flavorful skin. He enjoyed dining with the beautiful bird.


Steve ripped into his pulled pork sandwich smothered with crispy coleslaw. It was heaven on a bun. He was a happy man who proudly displayed his clean plate as if he expected a prize. A bellyful of smoked love is your reward, mister. Get happy.


The slaw received praise as a side dish. The cabbage collection is flavor-filled and ready to soothe your palate.


The collard greens also received props for being authentically delicious.

Fat Matt’s Brunswick Stew is unique. It is smoked pork, corn, and spices in a hearty puréed consistency. The savory stew fills out the spoon and travels well to your eager open hatch, and its flavor deepens your soul.


All platters come with two slices of white bread for sopping and clean-up duties. This was a waste as most of us are watching our figures (because no one else will), and white bread isn't a part of our diets. We give a special shout-out to Fat Matt’s barbecue sauce and its incredibly bold flavor that accentuates anything it touches without overwhelming and holding tastebuds hostage. The stuff is nectar of the barbecue gods.


We finished our meals, the dogs enjoyed their scraps, and we headed off into the sunset––which wouldn't be for hours, so we had time for naps.


Roy had time to inspect the damage from his tumble on the sidewalk.  The boys suggested he turn it into the basis for permanent bruise tattoos. He's in consultation with his local tattoo artist to develop a full-body bruise strategy. Roy's settlement from his legal case against Nilla should buy plenty of ink.


Rating: Four Ribs*

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

811 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

(404) 607-1622                                                                                         


*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.

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