Updated: Feb 28
Trailheads gathered at another Civil War Battle site and hiked the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve Outer Loop. The previous night we played poker, and Roy was the big winner, so he came to the hike just a bit cocky, shuffling cards as he strode along the trail. Brad came in second, and the rest of us were bitter losers claiming we’d been cheated. Steve was absent for poker and hiking––he is in Dallas with his wife Edith, watching their son Will compete in a national collegiate swimming competition. Will, a Colorado College senior, swam the 50-meters race in under 22 seconds and is in the finals! Go, Will!
Fio didn't swim today. She just waded. She missed Elvis, who was also absent, off to a kennel playground—leaving Fio to hold down the canine duties of corralling wayward Trailheads.
Our hike was in a beautiful pocket of southwest Atlanta, where the Battle of Utoy Creek took place August 5-7, 1864. Fighting in August sounds way too hot to us. We don’t even think they had AC back then!
Last week, we hiked the trail by Nickajack Creek in Mableton, where on July 4, 1864, instead of a fireworks show, Sherman's Army burned down mills as they marched toward Atlanta. The Union forces tired of marching, so they caught Ubers and took 75-South into the city to try and shut down the railroad lines and choke off supplies to the Confederate Army.
The Blue Army engaged in battles at Peachtree Creek and Ezra Church and was closing in on the Macon & Western Railroad between Atlanta and East Point. Confederate Gen. John B. Hood knew trouble was coming his way, so he organized "a railway defense line" with rifle pits and artillery forts in the woods by Utoy Creek. They also felled trees, making it difficult for invading forces to progress. War is serious business, and you’ve got to use every trick in the book. Trees come in handy.
Union soldiers went into the woods and encountered heavy musketry and cannon fire. Casualties were high on the Union side. More federal troops came to fight and flanked the rebels but failed in their objective of shutting down the railroad lines. Team Blue lost close to a thousand men in the three-day battle. Sherman decided to let the rail lines be. He gathered his armies, besieged Atlanta, and eventually drove to the sea. Who wouldn't? The Georgia coast is quite lovely. For those who aren't too keen on history, the Union Army won The Civil War.
As we hiked along Utoy Creek, we didn't worry about the ghosts of all those fallen soldiers. We worried about reenactors lurking behind the rocks with muskets. Instead, Trailheads encountered mysterious sights––fresh fruits and expensive chocolates. At various points, we saw a pineapple, coconuts, mangos (mangos????), oranges, apples, a rotted plantain, and even a box of assorted Godiva Chocolates. Not Hershey. Godiva! We even saw a yellow crookneck squash. There were also candles and flowers scattered about. It was most curious, so CSI Trailheads began working to solve this mystery.
If you hate mysteries, click here, and you'll get the skinny.
Patrick went across the creek to inspect the Godiva box. The box itself was in good shape, with no signs of distress. But inside, a few pieces were crushed, and a couple of pieces were missing. Patrick ran taste tests on the evidence and reported the chocolate was creamy and delicious, much like eating a candy bar one might find on a sidewalk or in a dumpster. After all, who doesn't love a tasty dumpster treat, especially after you brush away the insects?
The Trailheads CSI Team had no clue how this confounding mystery came to be. One hypothesis: Carmen Miranda hiked the trail and tripped (google Carmen Miranda if you don't get the reference). Another theory involved devil worship and human sacrifice. One theory suspected it was the handiwork of aliens, and another hypothesis was evil leprechauns riding unicorns. We began getting headaches, decided to let sleep fruits lie—and moved on.
Yet we enjoyed the trail; it had many ups and downs, water features, beautiful fallen trees, and impressive rock formations. One could imagine it being a perfect place to defend against invading troops (but not invading fruits and sweets). If you have any theories or wild ass guesses what caused the placement of random fruits and Godiva chocolates, and what they mean, please shoot us a line. We’ll also take your confession if you were involved in this caper.
After the hike, we Yelped barbecue places and settled on one in Hapeville called Pit Boss BBQ & Spirits. Hey, we're a spirited bunch, and we like barbecue, so it sounded perfect. An 18-minute drive later, we entered the large warehouse structure packed with hungry people—lots of them. Though we are seasoned poker players, we were surprised to learn "Pit Boss" here is not a wordplay on a barbecue pit but a casino pit boss. The logo shows a card hand with an Ace showing. Why have a gambling theme for a barbecue joint? Maybe they won the place in a game of Texas Hold-em. You'd have to ask Wade or Tracy. It's their place, and "Atlanta Eats" has featured their food.
This food emporium has everything–– the Pit Boss deals ribs (baby back and spare), rib tips, pulled pork, sausage, rinds, brisket, chicken, wings, burgers, chili (which they were out of), and surprising fare like fried green beans. And as you probably guessed, they offer more sides than you can shake a stick at, but leave your damn stick outside–– you could put an eye out with that thing.
The video menu boards change quickly. We had to watch them cycle through five times to catch the daily special. This day’s feature was a giant potato loaded with what seemed to be everything they had on the menu board. If we ate that, we'd need nap mats. We shifted our focus to the core items.
We think the sides are the stars of the show here. Brunswick Stew had a hearty, meaty flavor with a spicy kick, and the slaw garnered raves for its vinegary and heavily onioned pop. Collard greens eaters liked that the veggie was flavorful without being too salty. We've had lots of salty collards in our travels. Salty greens seem to be a thing. George's side salad was not an adornment. The sucker was substantial, with plenty of tasty ingredients. Let's talk meats in the next paragraph while you view this pretty picture.
The brisket looked great –– lean, prepared perfectly, but missing a solid smoke presence. The wings were tasty but lacked the smoky flavor of Fox Bros. wings. (So far, our favorite wings—extra crispy, of course, that's The Trailheads way.) The chopped pork was wet. Not juicy, but sopping wet. The rib tips were tasty, but the serving portion was shall we say, petite? We recommend going for a double.
There are two varieties of sauces offered, mild and spicy. Both are good. Our table leaned for spicy. We're spicy! The cornbread was okay, and the Texas Toast toasted on only one side. Flip it, cook. We don't understand why Texas is sending its toast to Georgia. Keep it, cowboys. Trailheads like cornbread. As we left, we drove around back to check out the smoker. We let the pitmaster know we enjoyed our visit, and he appreciated the recognition.
Unfortunately, there was no Utoy Creek Fruit Salad or Godiva sweets on the menu. Dammit! But there was a happy, fun, engaged, and helpful crew at the Pit Boss. Their enthusiasm and good cheer made a big impression on us—well done, Pit Boss.
The Pit Boss serves fine barbecue fare, enjoyed by cops, Delta pilots, EMTs, government drug agents, Hapeville locals, and Trailheads. We were in full Trailhead gear today, so we fit right in with all the uniformed groups. This joint may be a good pit stop before your next flight.
Rating: Four Ribs*
Pit Boss BBQ & Spirits
800 Doug Davis Dr.
Hapeville, GA 30354
*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: we have acclaimed designers in our group, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.