Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Aboard the BBQ Express!

I'm off on our family's summer vacation, which began early in the week in Atlanta (Six Flags, the Aquarium, and the World of Coke).  This morning we headed north up into the hills to Blue Ridge, GA, for a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which I would recommend heartily to just about anyone, especially anyone who has a fondness (like me) for trains.

It's a one hour ride that chugs around the curves down a gentle grade all the way to McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee (siamese twin towns that straddle the Georgia-Tennessee state line), then, following a two-hour layover, heads back up the hill to Blue Ridge.

They call it the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, but I think a more appropriate name would be the BBQ Express.  When you first get off the train in McCaysville, you pass behind the All Aboard cafe, which has, hands down, the best barbecue marketing device I've ever seen.  Look closely in the picture below.  Do you see the little wisps of smoke coming out from under the brown shingled roof to the right of the photo?

That's the barbecue pit at the All Aboard, with the chimney coming right up and out just where hundreds of railroad tourists are disembarking from the train at . . . just a few minutes past noon.

But, the gang at the All Aboard don't have the field all to themselves.  As you head down the ramp between the All Aboard and the brick storefront that holds the Blue Ridge Scenic RR's gift shop, you can see directly across the street the following view:

That's Georgia Boy's BBQ, complete with a big front porch with lots of tables and a row of six-foot high corn stalks lining the sidewalk (I'm not sure why.)  While the All Aboard has a definite leg up with their big plume of hickory-smoke, the Georgia Boy's doing everything he can to compensate with a bunch of big red and yellow signs.

For big hungry boys like myself, this is what is known as a quandry.  I checked out the All Aboard first, but I didn't want to commit myself until I gave Georgia Boy's a good look, too.  And by the time I did that--and smelled the hardwood smoke coming from the big black cooker out in the pit which is plainly visible directly adjacent to the front porch--I figured I might as well have a sandwich.

Georgia Boy's chopped pork sandwich is served wrapped in white paper with a couple of pickles on the side (which I immediately dropped underneath the top bun where they belong.)  It's a really good sandwich: very smoky with just a small amount of sweet brown Georgia BBQ sauce.  The bun is lightly toasted the way it should be, and the two pickles are just enough to give a little crunch.

A very fine sandwich.

I'm already planning a return trip, either in October when the leaves are changing or around Christmas time, when the railway runs a special "Santa Express" train.  And when I do, I'll have to give the All Aboard a try, too.

All told, a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon with the family.


kudzu said...

Well, now you have driven me to distraction. I know that part of the country like the back of my hand. I love trains (and miss the joy of good train travel) and I miss Georgia barbecue so much it hurts.

Yes, a trip in the fall would be a real experience. It was at that time of year that I last visited, more than ten years ago. Sitting here in my writing room in California, I can still feel that clean mountain air.

Thanks for the memory jogs!

Robert said...

Glad I could bring back some good memories, Kudzu. There's another scenic train--the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad--that leaves out of Bryson City, NC, and travels along the Tuckasegee and Nantahala rivers. I want to give that one a try, too.

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