Updated: Sep 10
We almost did it. Trailheads just about assembled the entire crew, but Steve and his wife escaped America with their letters of transit. We received a call from them at a table in Rick's Café Americain in Casablanca, Morocco. Steve barked at a guy named Sam "to play the song again."
There was tinkling piano music in the background, playing a familiar tune. We couldn't recall the song title–– something about remembering something––and then something about a kiss. We think it's a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit.
While we hiked, Steve and his bride would ride camels (two humpers) or dromedaries (one hump, please) in the desert. Steve would probably complain about sand in his shoes and see mirages of baby back ribs or brisket sandwiches. NEWS FLASH: Marrakesh, Morrocco was hit with a nasty 6.8 earthquake Friday night, and fortunately, Steve and his wife are fine. We wish them safe travels. Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming, a silly write-up of this week's hike.
With vacationing Steve absent, that left Trail Master Guy, Roy, Brad, George, and Patrick rallying at Jones Bridge Trail in Johns Creek. George has been an infrequent hiker since he's in the thick of producing his '96 Atlanta Olympics documentary. We told him we had collectively accumulated 26 gold medals and 19 silvers in those Games. George has been unable to confirm this, so he refuses to interview us on camera. He apparently sticks to a "fact-based world." What a shame. We would have had some fantastic stories to tell
Trailheads arrived fashionably attired. Brad, our design guru, was sporting the black and silver Trailheads look (sharp). Guy had a "Hike the Hooch" cap and Trailheads tee (classic), George had a Trailheads logo cap and the hippie design of "Hike the Hooch" tee (trippy), and Patrick was full on Hoochin' with a "Hike The Hooch" cap and a Hooch Hiker tee (stylish). You can get all your cool swag here and help us support Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy (they receive ALL profits from our merch sales). Buy some stuff and add "do-gooder" to your resume and bio.
We almost forgot to mention bad boy Roy, who was way off Trailheads' branding standards. He went rogue in a mesh hat and a tee shirt reading: "DANGER: FALL HAZARD." Roy swiped the warning from a sign he saw on a hike, and he believes it's the perfect calling card for his nickname, "Roy Tumbles" (read his funny hiking cartoons here).
He will face sanctions for his actions and possible flogging by the Trailheads' Cat o' Nine Tails (made with sharpened rib bones). But honestly, he kind of likes that.
Our hiking and barbecue itinerary was identical to another journey in July 2022 (read about it here). Jones Bridge Trail is one of our favorite Hooch adventures. It offers beautiful river views and opportunities to get some exercise climbing hills. But along the way, you'd better watch your step. Tree roots are lying in wait for unsuspecting feet. And they mean business.
Roy Tumbles did not succumb to the potential dangers but had a troubling sign early on when he encountered what he described as "a gigantic fallen sequoia tree blocking the path." But he somehow managed to negotiate it (cue victorious music). Where was that Texas Chainsaw guy who goes around the trails and clears fallen trees when you need him?
Having been off the trail for a while, George went to the riverbank for an inspection.
"The Hooch is high," he reported. That's funny. We didn't smell pot. "No, not that, you numbskulls," he said, stooge-slapping us. "I meant the water level's high."
"Indubitably," Patrick said. "Must be the heavy rains. Maybe more water makes more water."
"A wise guy, eh?"
"Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."
"Why I oughta…" George raised a fist.
"Say––what's the big idea, you nitwits?" Trail Master Guy interrupted. "Get a move on!" He poked us in the peepers- DOINK! Our gang has many Moes.
We fell in line and marched. Jones Bridge Trail has a beautiful tree canopy with protection from the glaring summer sun. The dappled lighting is also a nice touch that makes for good photos. Thanks, Mother Nature.
Brad had Elvis and Nilla leashed and was in the lead. He said Nilla demands being the lead dog, and since none of us want that position, we say, "You go, girl." Fiona was busy shepherding lagging Trailheads, encouraging us to pick up the pace. She is a stern taskmaster. Elvis just wanted to chase squirrels. That makes him happy.
We began climbing a steep hill, and George told us about his recent visit to the cardiologist. He explained he had been having pinprick pains in his heart area. The doctor said that the pains were nothing to worry about. His medic's advice was to be concerned when you're sweating, feeling clammy, and your skin's flushed. Those symptoms could indicate a heart attack.
As we continued climbing, we decided we were having heart attacks. And we were utterly unprepared. We immediately wrote a bylaw amendment that every hike includes defibrillators.
Brad would need to begin designs for a Trailheads chopper for airlifting us out of dangerous situations like sweating, encountering fallen trees, or exercising. When we reached the top of the hill and caught our breaths, we decided our tickers were fine. They were only getting a workout. Well, everyone but Brad.
His Apple Watch is charting all kinds of health info that he can't decipher but worries about anyway. He went to a sports cardiologist who told him to ditch the Watch and invest in a full-time RN to follow him around. Does Apple make those?
Suddenly, Guy demanded everyone be quiet. He had heard something in the distance that he said sounded like pigs fighting. We became nervous. Lumps began building in our throats, our eyes filled with tears, and sweat gushed from our foreheads. Everyone had read about the wild boar problems in many areas, and with our track record of eating barbecued ribs and pulled pork, the swine population might have taken contracts out on us. And who better than boars to exact sweet revenge?
Cripes––maybe there were also killer cattle in these woods.
"How's that brisket tasting now, two-legged scum?!" they'd say as their hooves stomped our heads into mush.
We picked up our pace. As we hurried along, we wondered how Guy knew what pigs fighting sounded like. Were they that different from river otters?
Fortunately, hikers and their dogs were the only animals we encountered. And they were all friendly. Jones Bridge has many trails winding hither and yon (but why anyone wants to go to "yon" is beyond us), and we decided it was time to vector our way back to the parking lot. We were famished from fear and accidental exercise.
Brad and Guy disagreed about the best return route, and we deferred to Guy's Trail Master rank and followed his lead––realizing after six minutes that it was bogus. Brad gloated as he directed us back. Is he planning a coup again? Brad says Nilla wants the lead, but we suspect it's him lusting for a power grab. Stay tuned, Trailheads Nation.
Back at our cars, we made a beeline for 'cue Barbecue in Peachtree Corners, a joint we've enjoyed before. Patrick's wife, Donna, was joining us for lunch. They live nearby, and she wanted to keep an eye on Patrick. Who can blame her? We hear he's quite the hunk in his new bespoke suit. Maybe he'll model it on a future hike, and Brad can determine the best place for a Trailheads logo.
'cue Barbecue has two other locations in Milton and Cumming. The menu is extensive and unique because there are no prices listed. One must scan the menu QR code to get the current prices in distinctive amounts like $5.12 and $14.37. Go figure. Patrick saw the menu has "Pittsburgh style coleslaw" (with a vinegar base, diced red peppers, onion, and turmeric). He asked the friendly server if the owners came from Pittsburgh. Nope. There's no Pittsburgh connection. Curious.
And get a load of this, you can get any sandwich made "Pittsburgh style," topped with P-slaw, hand-cut russet fries, and fried egg. It's like breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a bun. George is from Philadelphia and demanded Philly Coleslaw. The kind woman told him that would not be a problem. She brought him Pittsburgh coleslaw and told him it was Philly Slaw. He bought it. What next, would George be looking for Pittsburgh Cheesesteak and Pittsburgh Cream Cheese? We placed our orders and enjoyed our drinks.
Guy ordered a full rack of ribs for the table, and George ordered a half rack. George is our ribs specialist and declared 'cue Barbecue's baby backs to be "superlative." Everyone who sampled the ribs agreed. The meat was delicious, tender, and struggling to stay on the bone. There was a smoky bite to every bite. Stacks of clean bones littered our table.
George had a side of Brunswick stew, which he liked, except for the beans. He is not a bean guy because he was forced to eat them as a kid and has been carrying a bean chip on his shoulder ever since. But that's Brunswick Stew for you. They are all different. Still, George raved about his stew's flavor.
Guy also had ordered fries for the table (they're terrific) and fried okra––these babies are the real deal, not off a Sysco truck. Everything here is homemade. We love that. Cooks in the kitchen, not in some distant commissary. We had to restrain Guy as he was about to order everything on the menu as a starter. He ordered like someone who left their wallet at home.
For kicks, Guy did a slaw-off, ordering sides of the Pittsburgh Slaw and the 'cue Slaw––traditional slaw with carrots, a hint of onion, and a sweet mayo dressing. He slightly preferred the mayo slaw version, angering Steelers fans worldwide. Jack Lambert may be visiting Guy soon to persuade him otherwise.
Brad had the sliced brisket plate. He liked his brisket but craved a bit more smokey flavor. But no worries, 'cue Barbecue offers four flavorful sauces that will perk up any taste bud. Brad also enjoyed his collard greens and pointed out that he is NOT an Alabama native, as has been erroneously reported in these chronicles. Yes, he attended Auburn, but he was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. And, no, don't invite him to your stinking barn raising.
Roy enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich. He liked the meat and the presentation. 'cue Barbecue serves its sandwiches on large fluffy rolls toasted to perfection so they can easily withstand the heft of smoked meats and sauces. We wonder if Roy would have liked his pork so much had he seen a wild boar earlier. But we were so hungry that he might have field-dressed it and spit-roasted it there.
Patrick and Donna were so cute. Both had the chopped brisket sandwiches, which were very good. They dressed them in the 'cue sweet sauce and said the sammies ate like a dream. It was so nice to have the lovely Donna with us today. She brightened our spirits and gave us the lowdown on their son's coming nuptials––which was odd because we thought he was getting married.
Our server was exceptional. We realize we're a handful when we descend on a place. We're exhausted, sweaty, swearing to beat the band, demanding food and drink, with three slobbering dogs in tow and four different and specific Arnold Palmer custom mixes required. She kept our glasses full, supplied ample napkins, and was cheerful and attentive, bringing water for the dogs who lapped it up like they had been with Steve in the desert.
We finished our grub and agreed the ribs were the pick hit. Everything else was tasty, but the ribs, well, we highly recommend you get a rack or two. Just be sure no wild boars see you eating them.
Rating: Four Ribs*
5260 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Peachtree Corners, GA 30071
*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.
Elvis Loves Fio
North Georgia BBQ
Pierre de Coubertin Medal
Glacier National Park
Island Ford Trail
Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy