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Trailheads Hunted By Vulture & Snake (Similar To Moose & Squirrel), Dabble In Devil Worship, Eat At Jim ‘N Nicks-Suwanee.

As Thin Lizzie used to say, “The boys are back in town.” This week, Steve was our only no-show. He, unfortunately, felt under the weather–while we were all “under” or “in” the weather technically, his excuse felt like weak tea, but we let it slide. We can assure you the weather was hot. Summer is officially here.

Trail Master Guy selected virgin territory: Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center in Buford. That's a trail, you ask? It is. He read about it in a book, "Sixty Trails To Torture Trailheads." It was not a bestseller, certainly not with us. George, Brad, Roy, and Patrick joined Guy in the expedition.

There are over five miles of paved and natural trails to explore, along with a large museum where one can learn the incredible history of this area. Being resistant to knowledge, we ignored the museum but did see some of the sculptures of Creek and Cherokee Native Americans. We posed with them. The statues ran away.

Some Trailheads got their hiking boots out of mothballs and prepared to be outdoorsy and rugged like mountain men. The attempt at impersonation failed miserably as all hikers who saw us mumbled, “Stupid city slickers will probably get lost and need Air Evac rescue.”

We began our journey of 1,000 miles beginning with one step and counted “One” in unison. We quickly realized when we got to step “One-Hundred-Eighty-Six” that the hike would take forever if we counted every step. No more counting! Then someone began singing “99 Bottles of Beer on The Wall,” and we had to finish it.

Along the paved trail, we came to an old house as welcoming as the one in “Psycho.” It was the Chesser-Williams House, built in the 1850s, and one of the oldest surviving homes in Gwinnett County. It looked vacant, although we believe we saw Mother Bates in the upstairs window.

Off to the side was an old barn. We went inside to explore, perhaps there would be horse and cow skeletons. Looking up, Roy saw a turkey vulture hungrily watching him. The bird of prey looked starved. The buzzard sized up the five humans below and thought, “Patience––soon enough, they will be delicious carrion, and I can throw a feast for my buddies.”

”We turned and walked away, and the large vulture flew out of the barn and landed on the house chimney. It looked down at us, tying a bib around its neck and sharpening its beak. This was not a good omen. Would we be picked off one by one?

There was a shed with many farming implements. Our attention was distracted from our friend, the drooling buzzard. The farm machines were old and rusty and looked like a lot of work to operate, so we kept walking because we were lazy. 

Patrick saw an anvil, bringing back memories of his village blacksmithing days when he says he’d stand under a spreading chestnut tree with large and sinewy hands, and the muscles of his brawny arms were strong as iron bands. His hiking mates knew he was telling tales and tried to lose him by walking faster and throwing rocks at the “Smitty.”

”There was a sign with a lot of information about boll weevil eradication, but we didn’t stop to read, knowing that a ravenous vulture was hunting us. And if boll weevils were eradicated, we didn't need to worry about them anyway. Perhaps vultures ate them all.

On down the trail, as we trail boys say, we came upon a circular wall. This was curious. Some stones were ancient (insert your Mick and Keith joke here). Someone said the rocks might be from “ramparts,” to which someone else asked, “What’s that?"

This gave birth to Trailheads Ramparts Chat, a fascinating new talk show where five history wannabes attempt intelligent discussion. George said ramparts are mentioned in our National Anthem, and he began singing the song like Ethyl Merman, belting out, “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly, yeah, streaming…”

Observing the circular stone wall, we wondered if perhaps this wasn’t a site for devil worshippers or something even more sinister like a coven of oral surgeons. We imagined the gum jockeys arranging molars in a pentagram shape inside the stone circle. We were starting to creep ourselves out, so we kept moving.

Trail Master took us off the security of the paved path and down a natural trail riddled with exposed roots and greenery that appeared to be condos for ticks and chiggers. We stepped carefully through the vegetation, wishing to avoid becoming a movable feast for insects before the vultures got to eat their buffet.

Behold, we came upon a stream, and the dogs ran down for a dip and drink. While Fio and Elvis prefer Perrier, they settled for the creek water. We stayed above watching on a dune wondering how the sand got there.

Some proposals were made to re-enact scenes from “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Dune,” but no one could remember any of the lines. We kept our eyes peeled for sandworms and camels.

Back on the trail, we encountered a man named Keith. He is a friendly guy who works as a “media specialist” at a school. That is the new term for the librarian.

We told him about Trailheads as he fought sleep, then gave him one of our stickers. Keith, if you’re reading this, please tell the kids to read regularly. We need eyeballs! Consider our blog posts the modern "My Weekly Reader." By the way, Roy still has his 1963 edition of "My Weekly Reader" honoring John F. Kennedy.

Up ahead, we saw trouble––a fallen tree. This could derail Roy from hiking onward. He does not like obstructive tree branches and usually sits down and sobs, saying, “We’re all gonna die––I just know it!” 

Fortunately, he could carefully walk over the branch and shake his fists like he’d just won a heavyweight championship fight. Everyone else just walked around it.

Guy assembled us for a group selfie. He positions the group so we are staring directly into the sun, screaming in pain. We did as Trail Master commanded, then used our seeing eye dogs to reverse positions and do a re-shoot so we weren’t sun gazing.

The usual grumbling and whining began about our being hungry and doubling back for lunch. Trail Master kept us marching on. He checked his AllTrails app and was delighted to discover we were off the grid. Finally, he yielded to the whiners, and we began making our way back.

Then it happened––we saw a snake! Not an itsy-bitsy baby snake, but a long black, slithering adult snake with a nasty killer’s attitude. Mother Nature was assembling her troops to eliminate us.

We were sure a bear would soon appear, perhaps even a coyote with a knife or a deer with a rifle. We moved quickly, knowing that the vulture was probably circling above us. 

Roy used his snake app and learned this was a good snake––an Eastern Rat Snake. They eat varmints and whatnot. The more of these slitherers around the yard, the better.

Back at the cars, we got on Yelp to review our barbecue options. Guy found a Korean place with the words “tofu” and “barbecue” in its name. We were suspicious but caravaned to the joint and discovered there was no outdoor seating for the dogs. We called an audible for Jim ‘N Nick’s in Suwanee.

Assembling on the patio, we were greeted by our server, who told us her name was Loretta Lynn. She said her father had a sense of humor, but she didn’t. Someone asked if there were any specials, and she said, “You’ll eat what I bring you.” We instantly liked the cut of Loretta’s jib. Saucy!

Immediately, Brad and Guy began throwing out Loretta Lynn-isms based on their relatively shallow knowledge of the musical Loretta. Our Loretta had heard them all and ignored the boys with aplomb.

We ordered and were soon served our giant app, Pitmaster Nacho Platter, with beef brisket. It was attacked from all angles yet still survived. We have had this before at other Jim 'n Nick’s and enjoyed the pre-feasting feast. It our favorite thing on the menu.

Then came a basket of the irresistible warm cheesy corn biscuits that melt in your mouth faster than M&Ms from a hot, sweaty palm. Okay, these biscuits are also one of our favorite things on the menu.

The food came, and after our recent visit to the Jim ‘N Nick’s in Smyrna, we had great expectations (read about that visit here.)

But first, Roy had to shoot the food. He is meticulous about his food photography and will slap anyone who takes a bite before he’s captured “the moment.” Anticipation mounted. Saliva was drooling. We all looked like Elvis.

The men who ordered ribs marveled at the size of their half-racks of baby backs. These babies had big backs. They dug in and ate happily to the bone. Smoked pork pasted with sweet barbecue sauce sounds like a winning combo. They tapped out before they got done, declaring they would save the remaining ribs for dinner. But we’re unsure if the food made the trip home––we suspect it didn’t.

Those who ordered the pulled pork liked their moist mounds of tender smoked meat. Dressed with barbecue sauce and nestled within a toasted Martin’s potato bun. 

We're big fans of the toasted bun. Guy attacked his fried catfish like the fillets had done him wrong. He enjoyed his catch. Roy mentioned a saying: "Never eat barbecue at a fish restaurant or fish at a barbecue restaurant." Guy paid him no, never mind, and ate away.

The sides were solid, as usual. The collards were authentic and cooked perfectly with a nice southern flavor.

The slaw did its cabbage proud. Crisp and tossed in a nice sauce. We've had a lot of different slaw styles lately, and we like many of them.

The Mac & Cheese had everything you wanted––macaroni and cheese. Grab your fork and get digging.

And the fries were okay. We would have preferred them crispier, but that didn’t stop us from dredging them in ketchup and eating them.

George grabbed his to-go order of pulled white meat chicken which would be dinner for the lovely Carole—he is such a nice husband. We hate him for making us look like inconsiderate oafs.

To cap our wonderful action-packed day, George announced he would pick up the check, and we immediately elected him “the greatest man who ever lived.” 

We bid Loretta Lynn goodbye and cast ourselves to the winds. We had to get a head start on the vultures who were planning on having us for lunch.

Rating: Four Ribs*


1103 Old Peachtree Rd NW

Suwanee, GA 30024



*About Our Barbecue Rating System

Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palates. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing out. 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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