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Trailheads Hike Riverwalk ATL, Allegedly Break Laws, Hop Trains, Take Refuge at DAS BBQ.

Bad Boy Trailheads broke in the new year by (allegedly) breaking laws. We don’t know which ones or how many, and frankly, we don’t care. We’re surly miscreants milling about in dark corners, cussing like sailors, spitting like snakes, and talking about nasty stuff that's not typically discussed in polite society. We’re desperadoes. Hell, we even parked in an unmarked parking spot for our hike.


Trail Master Guy selected Riverwalk ATL for this week’s adventure. He spent Saturday with about 30 people for a guided hike with the man leading the development of this westside trail. You can call Guy a trailblazer. He loves that. We hiked this trail almost a year ago. You can refresh your memory of that journey here.

George couldn’t make this week’s hike due to geography. He was traveling home from Bend, OR, and could not get a last-minute ticket on the Star Trek Transporter. Though at the airport, he did draw the attention of security as he kept yelling, "Beam me up!"


Brad had to bow out because he was taking Elvis to the vet. Poor Elvis had done something to his leg and limped like a pirate on a pegleg. Nilla has pledged to nurse him back to health. Steve and Patrick rallied at Guy’s house to take his express Jeep commandeered by Fio to the westside address where the hike began. Roy met us there.


It was Roy’s birthday. When asked his age, he quickly kicked the questioner in the groin and snapped, “Old enough not to ask stupid questions.” Fair enough. We believe he’s at least legal drinking age, and he is proving it while the rest of us are trying to do Dry January. Roy prefers Damp January.


The hike got underway on this cool, clear morning. Roy eyed some “Georgia Snow,” (often referred to in scientific circles as Frost) we fretted because we had not brought our snowshoes. We’d have to rough it.


We walked along an endless string of idle railway cars. Guy explained that train cars were used to haul Argos USA Concrete Company products. The plant was in the distance, supplying most of the concrete and cement products in the southeast. These railcars would haul the stuff hither and yon. Hither is beautiful this time of year, but yon, not so much.

Perhaps some Argos products made it as far as Beverly Hills to make the “cee-ment pond” at Jed Clampett’s mansion. Goodness knows Ellie Mae liked sitting out there, and Dash Riprock enjoyed the sight. Of course, this begs the whole question of the difference between cement and concrete. We fortunately ignored this hot topic to keep the peace.


We came to a large brick structure with a tall smokestack. Trail Master and tour guide Guy told us this was the primary incinerator for the city of Atlanta.

The facility had been shut down but still operates, collecting cardboard and wood products that are shipped away and processed to become “the fluffy stuff in baby diapers.” We couldn’t tell if he was pulling our legs or not, so we looked down. We didn’t see him, so he must have been on the level.


There was a low spot in the fence with an easily accessible gap that Trail Master immediately stepped through.

"Is this trespassing?” Steve asked.

"It’s not an official hike if we don’t trespass,” Guy said. "Besides, they obviously left this gap for us as a welcome sign!" We followed, like sheep, to the slaughter.


We circled the old plant and walked up the road. A guy in a bulldozer told us it was private property. Guy saw an Atlanta city pickup truck and began walking toward it. Maybe he would finagle out of this before we got locked up. Guy chatted up the truck man and returned. He said we should backtrack the way we came because there were more city vehicles out front. We began retracing our steps, happy to avoid a perp walk.


As we stepped back through the fence, Guy said we needed to hike toward the river, but there were two very long stopped trains on the tracks blocking our way. He suggested we crawl under the train cars. Steve relayed a story of a man he knew growing up who had lost an arm and a leg because he played around trying to cross a slow-moving train.

Patrick told the tale of a student he knew in college who was drunk and thought he could negotiate his way through the coupling of a slow-moving train in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. The poor fellow didn’t make it, and his remains were removed and hosed from the tracks.

“No, thanks, Guy,” we said. “Let’s play it safe."


But it was too late. Our Trail Master was eagerly climbing the stationary trains like a monkey on a mission. And he made it through unscathed. Feeling peer pressure, we followed his lead. Had one of the trains begun moving, with our life insurance premiums paid up, we’d leave wealthy widows. Fortunately, the trains never budged.


Reassembling on the wrong side of the tracks, we wondered how many laws we had broken and if any were federal infractions. Honestly, no signs or postings told us we shouldn't do any of this. It didn’t matter. We were free-range Trailheads and began hiking to the Chattahoochee riverfront. There was a primitive bridge we bravely negotiated and somehow survived. Amazing.


We walked under the overpass, enjoyed the cool graffiti tags on the bridge supports, and wondered if Brad could tag a Trailheads logo there someday. We love dreaming up work for our design maven.


The Hooch was moving briskly. We imagined building a raft and heading down the river like Huckleberry Finn for adventures galore. But we decided that might be pushing our luck, and we would never trust any seacraft we had built. Who would?

We walked through the pretty wooded area and saw a sign warning “humans and dogs” about some of the vegetation in the area. We were impressed that the dogs who travel in these parts are literate.

The warning concerned plants that aren’t native to Georgia and can be problematic if you get them on your feet or pants and bring spores back home. Those could be trouble.

We were reminded of the spores in "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers." We checked our hiking shoes and pants (they were still on) and moved along.


Roy had seen a WSB-TV warning about another invasive species spotted in Georgia: the Cuban tree frog. It can get as big as a human hand (about 5”) and is described as a cannibal because it eats snails (no garlic butter), lizards, frogs, small snakes, and other native species. We hoped the cold weather would keep the cannibals at bay but picked up some hefty sticks just in case. You never want a cannibal frog to get the jump on you.


And don’t even get us started on another invasive species that’s invaded the southeast––Joro spiders. They grow as large as three inches and scare the hell out of Little Miss Muffet. And us, frankly.


We trudged along, watching intently, walking through a large patch of dormant kudzu, yet another invasive species. We stopped on the banks of the Hooch. On one side was the Georgia Power plant Guy said had been coal-burning and now operated on natural gas.

He said that change of fuel has reduced CO2 emissions by 98%. Trail Master is a firehose of information. On the other side of the river was the sprawling Argos Concrete plant. We wondered if gangsters get discounts for bulk orders of concrete shoes.


The hike had come to an end. We saw the stopped trains in the distance and began walking toward our parked cars. There was an empty Perrier bottle along the tracks.

Patrick imagined some Boxcar Barry enjoying French sparkling water with his tin of beans. The rails never cease to surprise.


It was our favorite time, lunchtime, and we were heading to DAS BBQ West Midtown on Collier Road. We last visited the place in March. Read about it here. It's Roy's local barbecue joint, so he hits them up often.


We’re big fans of this joint. DAS BBQ also has a location on Memorial Drive next door to Oakland Cemetery, and while you’d probably think business there would be dead, it isn’t. Both restaurants are very popular.


DAS is German for “the” and is a nod to the German Czech settlers who brought the tradition of smoking meats to central Texas. The Collier location is the original DAS BBQ, begun by native Texan Steve Franklin (AKA “The Sultan of Smoke”). His son Stephen is the pit master. Smoke runs in their blood, and we were fortunate to have both men working on this fine day.


Aside from serving terrific smoked meats and sides, DAS BBQ has innovative sauce udders for dispensing its tasty barbecue sauces. You rarely see innovations in the barbecue racket, and we love the udders, but when we walked in, we were alarmed to see they were gone. Did sauce cows return to claim them? We had to get to the bottom of this. Trailheads are also intrepid shamuses, gumshoes who get to the bottom of every mystery.


We ordered our grub and noticed two people at a table with laptops and spreadsheets––one was Papa Franklin, the man himself, Mr. DAS BBQ. Collaring him, we asked about the mystery of the missing udders. He told us they took them down because some customers didn’t feel the restaurant was “clean” using them. We were incensed.

“What?” we bellowed. “You mean some wilting tenderfoots thought yanking a rubber udder for their sauce wasn’t sanitary? If germs spook them, wash your mitts. Squirt a glob of Purell. Get over it. What’s this Nanny State world coming to?!”

“Yeah,” he said sadly. “I loved those udders, too. They were my idea."

“Trailheads love them too,” we agreed like bootlicking toadies, but we were on the up and up. The Sultan of Smoke was overjoyed.

“Hey, do you think you could help me?" he asked, a gleam of hope in his eyes. “Could you do some social media and tag me? Maybe popular demand can bring the udders back.”

“You got it, pal,” we said, cocking our Trailheads fedoras askance. “Anything for the udders.”

Steve was jubilant and took a selfie with us. He likes our logo and supports our righteous cause of being on the path to truth and barbecue.


Let’s eat. The brisket is top-notch. The beef is smoked for 22 hours and has a flavorful bark, and guess what? They’ll sell you their rub and sauces at the restaurant. The meat is smoky, fork-tender, and practically eats itself as it vanishes in your gob. You can’t go wrong with DAS brisket.


The same goes for the pulled pork. Steve loved his pork sandwich. Yes, the pork butts also get a 22-hour ride in the smoker and taste like a million bucks. The pork is tender and waiting to be dressed with sauce for dinner.

Steve was also bonkers for his smoked sausage. The links are homemade, with some spicy attitude that he tamed with tasty, sweet barbecue sauce. He claimed the sausage was too good to share, so we watched him eat his feast through teary eyes.


And the ribs, well, the ribs are incredible. They’re St. Louis-style, but if you didn’t know better, you’d swear they are baby backs. The spareribs are lean and tender and eat clean to the bone. They wore a peppery, lacquered glaze we couldn’t get enough of, so we accessorized them with the delicious DAS BBQ sauces.


The original sauce and the sweet Georgia peach sauce are winners. If you’d like some vinegary punch, go for the mopping sauce. Mix and match like a DJ on expressos and ecstasy. The sauces are all good––but they’d be even better dispensed from udders.


DAS BBQ has one of our favorite side dishes, the creamed jalapeno corn. In all our travels, nothing compares to this creamy, cheesy, spicy concoction of love. It is a must-order with any visit. One taste, and you’ll be writing the stuff fan letters. Who could blame you?


The coleslaw is also a winner. It’s crispy cabbage and a little carrot in a zesty sauce with sesame seeds thrown in for good measure. You can’t go wrong with sesame seeds. Like bacon, they make everything taste better.


And the collard greens are the real deal. Roy said they were cooked to perfect tenderness and full of sweet flavor. These greens are southern nutrition––what Popeye eats when he mumbles with a drawl and laughs, “Arf-arf-arf-arf-arf, y’all.”


We finished up our lunches, leaving clean platters and dirty napkins. We saw the pit master's son, Stephen Franklin, hauling a wheelbarrow filled with split pecan and hickory wood into the smokehouse. We followed him because the authorities hadn’t issued a restraining order against us. Yet. And once again, no signs explicitly told us not to go there.


Like his father, Stephen is a nice guy who is passionate about barbecue. We saw Pancho and Lefty, the offset smokers Stephen’s uncle built. The Franklins even grow their wood for smoking. This is a family affair. We love that, and you will, too.


But we don’t love bellyachers complaining and causing the sauce udders to be removed. This will not stand. We encourage you to support the udders by posting on the Trailheads and DAS BBQ social media pages. “BRING BACK THE UDDERS!!!” Hashtag it, baby!


Then, we can all pull up our milking stools and work on the sauce udders, as nature intended.

Rating: Four Ribs*

DAS BBQ West Midtown

1203 Collier Rd NW

Atlanta, GA 30318

*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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