To quote President James Polk, "There's no business like show business––like no business I know." And Trailhead George is in the thick of that wild business of show.
Mr. Hollywood was creating his epic documentary and canceled his participation in this week's hike. He was probably enjoying morning cocktails with Hal Linden, Elke Sommer, and Jimmy Smits; one can only imagine what shenanigans that crew could get into over Singapore Slings at the Formosa Cafe.
Trail Master Guy, Brad, Steve, Roy, and Patrick met to attack the Murphey Candler Park Trail, a beautiful idyllic spot in Brookhaven. As we assembled in the parking lot, Guy mentioned it would be a quick hike with an early lunch.
He had an ophthalmologist appointment at 2 pm because he has seen "floaters" lately. Patrick said he also sees floaters during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, and amazingly some are shaped like Snoopy, Grogu, and The Pillsbury Doughboy. Guy shook his head, disgusted by his idiotic bandmate.
As we stood chatting, aggressive geese and their young goslings surrounded us. A herd of Mallards approached on our right flank. We were in a minefield of geese turds––the inconsiderate birds don't pick up after themselves with those little green bags. The foul fowl!
As our Unit moved cautiously to the path, we knew any misstep could blow us to smithereens (hiking often involves such acts of bravery). We made it unharmed. These geese were worthy adversaries.
We didn't hike last week due to scheduling conflicts and extreme laziness, yet five of us had somehow rallied to lunch together and enjoy Japanese sushi and tempura. Would missing a weekly hike mean we are now hopelessly out of shape? Would we be able to complete a short trek around the lake? Skittish times, America. Let's see.
Elvis, Fio, and Nilla led the five men down the concrete path. Immediately, we encountered dog people: folks attached to their animals by leashes. We saw a young couple walking eight dogs at once—four for her, four for him. A Golden Retriever appeared to be on strike. It sat on the ground and held up his seven furry mates and two humans. We talked to the people, and as suspected, they were professional dog walkers—the Chattapoochee Dog Hiking Adventure Company. We dug the name. As did our pooches. Imagine that!
The couple was stranded because of the stubborn Golden––so Guy approached them and gave his Trailheads spiel; he even pitched our new "Hike The Hooch" ™ tee shirts. You can get yours here. ALL profits benefit Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy (CNPC) to help support the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA). You would look incredible sporting one of these babies. Have you been working out?
As we aimlessly strolled along, flapping our lips, a fearless deer casually munched on vegetation nearby. It looked up at us, and sensed no danger (probably mocking us with its deer superiority complex). Roy approached with his iPhone in hand to capture every moment.
The deer posed––we think it liked being a model. It looked up at Roy and spoke: "Hey, buddy, don't shoot me from that angle––it'll make my butt look big." The shutterbug accommodated the request and continued snapping. We supposed the creature had never seen Bambi. Eventually, the star critter got bored and scampered off, leaving the phone number for its agent.
We tackled many vital topics in our travels: the season finales of Ted Lasso, Succession, and Barry. Ted Lasso and Succession are opposites. Lasso is sweet, and there are many characters to root for. Succession has nothing but rich pricks hellbent on controlling society and the tools of power in pursuit of the almighty buck. Roy and Steve got confused, thinking we were talking about them. Both these series' finales landed perfectly, but Barry may be the darkest and most original show on TV. If you haven't seen it, dive in. The ending has a tasty O'Henry twist. Bill Hader is an incredible actor, writer, and director talent.
Trailheads also discussed coffee and avoided the tall grasses where chiggers and ticks lurk eager for unsuspecting flesh. We came upon the Murphey Chandler Lake cleanup device (it's like a human-operated Roomba on the water). We jawed about other stuff but steered clear of politics, religion, and decorative crocheting techniques, as those subjects can get heated.
We hiked across the street to the Murphey Candler Little League ballparks and football training equipment area. Guy goaded Steve into running through some crazy contraption simulating tacklers pounding you as if you were a running back. Steve drew on his storied youthful football career and somehow pushed through the stuffed linemen. Guy cautiously negotiated his way through the foam tacklers with his wounded wing. It was ugly and heroic.
Soon we found a path to a creek where the dogs could frolic and demonstrate their water sport expertise. We watched and dodged them as they emerged, intent on sliming whoever they ran into with pond scum collected in their fur. As they swirled around us, we heard our stomachs growl and howl. We punched out, saddled up, and headed to Dixie Q, in the deep south of Brookhaven.
Our hike and barbecue restaurant selection was identical to the one we took in November 2021 (read that review here). We would bring our more seasoned palates to Dixie Q and see how the joint is faring.
Dixie Q is located just off the vibrant restaurant scene on Dresden Ave. The facility is beautiful, with a clean design indoors and a spacious covered patio where we camped with our three dogs. The people who work here are exceptional. A friendly man named D'wayne welcomed us with a warm smile. Since we were on the early side of lunch, there were few customers. We received menus and beverages, and water for the dogs. The ragged Trailheads felt like pampered swells in the lap of luxury. We could get used to this.
Myah, our server, was an attentive young woman who took our orders and answered our questions. We didn't give her tough ones like "Who designed the Erie Canal?" or "How much would an anvil weigh on the moon, and would it kill the Coyote if it was dropped on his head by the Road Runner?" We restricted our questions to the menu, and Myah passed with flying colors. She knows her stuff.
Brad showed off his new wallet. It's a slim, compact credit card holder. When he slides a little bar, it pushes up his credit cards, staggered. He had a swagger about his new device, and we assume he will soon own the title of "fastest charger in the west." Brad is quick on the draw.
For some reason, the conversation turned to trees, and there was a consensus that magnolia trees are a pain. Their leaves fall when all the other leaves are not. And since the tough, brittle leaves fill with water from showers, they act as mosquito breeding grounds--the Motel 6 for bloodsuckers. Then, as will often happen with a gathering of men, the discussion turned to lawns. Yes, Trailheads are that predictably dull.
The issue was how to address lawn care in a heavily shaded area. Roy recommended a fake lawn. He has a neighbor who went for plastic turf and says it looks surprisingly great. D'wayne was nearby watering patio plants and overheard our conversation. He said he faced that shady lawn issue and found a beautiful solution: Creeping Jenny. Was this available at the Souper Jenny about a mile away?
No. Creeping Jenny is the friendly handle for its formal name, "Lysimachia nummularia" (we don't blame her for changing the moniker). It is a perfect ground cover that’s hearty, does well in the shade, and grows slowly. Our barbecue gardening man said he loves his Creeping Jenny. D'wayne gives it a trim with the lawnmower when it gets unruly. We received expert horticultural advice while waiting for our smoked meats––how great is that?
The food arrived, and we dug in like a bunch of cavemen who discovered fire in their Big Green Egg. The healthy ones ordered the salmon, which was glazed and seasoned to perfection. The fish lovers savored their catches and worked their way to clean plates.
The folks who ordered pulled pork had generous mounds of succulent tender pork kissed with smoke. It was mighty fine when dressed with the house barbecue sauce or the fire & smoke sauce (it has some peppery bang). No one ordered the brisket. What's wrong with us? Someone should have at least sampled the beef, but I guess the neon pig in the front window and the pig in the Dixie Q logo swayed us. It's not so subliminal swine advertising.
Those who ordered the wings (extra crispy, as is our way) raved about the cluckers. They had a savory seasoning and excelled when dressed in a gloss of sauce (it's what the well-dressed wing is wearing this year).
Steve made short work of his smoked sausage. Soon enough, it was the missing link. Those who got meat plates received Texas Toast. Although we're not fans, this was a good version with some char for added flavor. It stabilized the bread if one wanted to pile pork for a makeshift Sammie.
The sides are the real stars here. Those who received the Brussels Sprouts declared them some of the best we’ve had in our travels. They are cooked crispy and glazed with a delectable, sweet sauce that will make your mouth happy. Do not miss them!
Roy, the slaw expert, heartily recommends the Creole cabbage treatment here. And Brad, our collard greens maven, said they were exceptional. The Dixie Q sides shone.
We finished, the cleaned plates were removed, and meat scraps were given to the dogs, as generous Roy picked up the check. Maybe Brad isn't the quickest charger in the West.
The happy crew distributed Trailheads stickers to D'wayne and Myah, and we vanished to our lawns to consider the joys of fake grass or Creeping Jenny. Give Dixie Q a try soon--they've got the goods.
Rating: Four Ribs*
2524 Caldwell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30319
*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.