Our ragtag group is sometimes impossible to assemble––what with people getting sick, traveling, or doing insane things like working or having business meetings, it's a challenge to round up our posse of misfits and march them through the glories of nature.
This week, we thought we had done the deed. As of Wednesday, everyone was in. Trailheads would be attacking Arabia Mountain, Klondike, and Forest Trails Loop, a wonderous hike we had done before (read about it here). It's like walking on the surface of another planet, without all the cumbersome space travel.
This time it would be even better because the yellow daises wildflowers are in bloom, along with centuries-old lichens. If you're unfamiliar with lichens, they cover 6–8% of the earth's land surface. Who knew? Yes, we were pumped, together again and proving there ain't no mountain high enough.
Then Brad texted us that he was out. He had his Covid booster shot the day before and was down for the count. That was pretty disappointing but missing the company of Elvis hurt us deeply.
Trailheads are proud to be vaccinated AF, and we sent Brad our best. Then we did what all caring friends do. We compared our hiking foot fashions.
As you can see, we are a stylish bunch. Steve and Patrick wear classic Merrell Moab 2s, sensible boots that don't put on airs. Patrick was breaking in a new pair of Johnny Cash-black hiking boots, perfect for weddings and funerals. Trail Master Guy nestled his little piggies in rugged North Face boots. George showed a little leg and wore some sharp Hoka Speed Goats. He says although they're well-worn, the kicks still have some bounce. And then there is our fashion-forward style maven, Roy, who on this day was hiking in electric lime green Nike Pegasus Trail 2 boots.
Roy and Brad are both fans of Hoka hiking boots in vibrant colors previously only seen by Ken Kesey or Dr. Timothy Leary. We know Brad will eventually design some Trailheads boots for sale in our merch department. We're hoping he designs a generous toe box accommodating our foot spread caused by oppressive gravity over the years. Gravity is often our enemy.
Off we went, Trail Master Guy and Fio leading the way, marching along the wooden walkway on a crisp, cool Georgia Autumn morning. Amazingly, within fifteen minutes, we had solved most of the world's problems, although we couldn't stop Hurricane Ian and its devastating path of destruction. Sometimes Mother Nature is just cruel.
After a brisk hike on timber planks, we arrived at Arabia Mountain. If you've never been here, get in your car and go. Now. We'll wait.
This place offers some beautiful landscapes you don't see every day. The blooming yellow wildflowers were gorgeous against the dark surface of the metamorphic rock. For geological fans, the mountain is not granite––it's migmatite, metamorphosed at higher temperatures than gneiss but not sufficiently melted to become granite. Carry that factoid with you, and you're sure to be the center of attention in any gathering. "Migmatite" also makes a fabulous password when paired with a couple of numbers and a symbol.
If you need a little more conversational juice, mention that Arabia Mountain was not imported from Saudi Arabia and isn't actually a mountain––it's a monadnock (a small mountain rising from gently rolling terrain). This nugget should be a mic drop for you at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
The rock surface has a swirl pattern, making it a popular building stone. Lithonia has quarries mining the migmatite. Smart move.
As we hiked, we came upon a few cairns. These are man-made stacks of stones serving as markers. These trail-marking cairns mortared together were very substantial. So, we did what anyone would do: placing a dog on top of the cairn for a photo op. Fio looks heroic, like she's searching for Elvis.
Then we did the same with George. Both animals are willing Instagram hounds. Trailheads behave like ugly Americans, even in America. We're a pitiful bunch.
We strolled across the monadnock and worked up healthy appetites. It was time to punch out and head to lunch. Because Lithonia oddly is a barbecue wasteland, we decided to pop into Decatur and visit our friends at BBQ Café, a shack serving some mighty fine grub (read our first review here).
As we approached the order window, we heard some tasty blues, "I Hear You Knockin'" by Lazy Lester, followed by John Lee Hooker's "I Don't Need No Steam Heat." Steve began dancing in the line. It was an odd choice of moves to an old blues tune, and anyone driving by would have suspected he was having a seizure. We think hot blues is the proper soundtrack when you're eating barbecue–– and we encourage more restaurants to serve a side of hot blues with their fare. It creates a pleasant barbecue-chowing atmosphere.
We got a picnic table under shade on the side of the building. "Our table," we called it since we ate at this spot the last time. We camped out with our appetizers––a heaping serving of homemade pork rinds, spiced nicely, and fried green tomatoes, crispy breaded circles of southern hospitality.
Steve, Guy, and Patrick ordered the pulled pork sandwiches. The sandwiches come with a generous pile of tender smoked pork topped with tasty coleslaw and delicious homemade potato chips sprinkled with a flavorful spice encouraging you to scarf more. We did. There are also mouthwatering pickle slices to dress your sammie proper. They were baskets of joy.
George went for the ribs. He has been jonesing for ribs and sampling them at all our stops recently, and while he enjoyed the bones at BBQ Cafe, they were not the ribs of his dreams.
So far, his favorite has been Brad's ribs served on Trailheads' poker nights. At least that's what he tells Brad. So, his rib quest will continue. A noble quest.
Roy had the beef brisket and was a fan. The perfectly cooked lean meat had a sweet smokey flavor and nice bark. He liked his accompanying slaw and tater salad--and he doesn't even like potato salad.
The owners came out separately and greeted us. Mrs. BBQ Cafe remembered Trailheads from when we visited on Cinco de Mayo. Since she didn't point a shotgun at us, we must have made a good impression.
The friendly pit master wore a cool clown tee shirt and told us he was making hot sauces for an upcoming chicken wing competition. He grows peppers, including the ones that max out the Scoville scale, and causes Satan to say, "Damn, that's hot!" He has one scorcher that is even beyond the fabled Ghost Pepper. Now Trailheads like a bit of heat, but we also like to be able to taste the smoky delights. We're sure our chef will win some glory and inflict a little pain.
Then came our big surprise. George recently celebrated a birthday, and he had the audacity to do so without us. We threw him a party anyway. Roy had designer birthday caps, candles, and a couple of orders of banana pudding. We sang to George and shoveled spoonfuls of sugary manna into our pudding holes in his honor–– we even let him have a couple of bites.
He is the elder Trailhead and was seated by the baby Trailhead – Patrick. The funny thing is that George is the youngest spirit of the batch. We all want George's genes, and so does Keith Richards.
The next time George goes to Switzerland for his Coubertin research, we're joining him for some full-body blood replacement therapy and George gene splicing. It was a grand party, and we wish our fellow Trailhead many more.
We called it a day with full bellies and retreated home for naps, pickleball, dog frisbee, work, or whatever it is we do when we're not trekking the earth solving problems and addressing issues of the day. We suspect Brad and his assistant Elvis were working away on our designer hiking boots.
Rating: Four Ribs*
310 East Howard Ave.
Decatur GA 30030
*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.