This year's spring cruise will be on April 12-14 and will be based in Guntersville Alabama. The event hotel is located at 14451 US Hwy 431 S. We will start with a meet and greet in the lobby at 4:30 - 6. At 6 we will depart on a short 30-minute cruise to a restaurant. Both Friday and Saturday's cruises begin at 9AM. Host hotel is the Hampton Inn Guntersville, which is on beautiful Lake Guntersville and has plenty of trailer parking.
I hope to see you on the cruise!
JOIN UP IF YOU CAN!
Here is the rest:
For those of you that lucky enough to be going, please print these driving instructions to have with you.
For those that are not going, this is a "normal" weekend that we do at DSCC. Now you can see what you are missing!
The Deep South Cobra Club Presents the
9th Annual Spring Cruise, a.k.a.,
Randy's Tour De La Cobra
Welcome to Guntersville, Alabama. The population is 8,197. Built around on Lake Guntersville, which is the largest lake in Alabama, the town is at the southernmost end of the Tennessee River. The dam that created Lake Guntersville was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Founded by John Gunter, a local salt mine owner, the town was originally called Gunter's landing. John married the daughter of a local Cherokee chief. In addition to his bride, the marriage provided John with servants for his home. In exchange, the tribe known as the 'paint clan' received salt from John's mines. The Cherokee princess' name was Proud Horse, and she was known to be, uh, bossy. John eventually just started calling her horse, as it sounded somewhat more civilized than 'nag.'
John Gunter was Will Rogers' great-grandfather and the town still holds a festival every July in Will Rogers' honor. You may recall that Will Rogers is imminently quotable, having said such gems as, "Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to somebody else."
Lake Guntersville is considered the third best bass fishing lake in America and is managed by the TVA. One other noteworthy item about Guntersville; it is the last place Ricky Nelson performed as a singer. Ironically, although Ricky despised flying, he died while flying to Dallas from Guntersville on New Year's Eve 1985 when his vintage DC-3 crashed. Apparently, the aircraft's cabin heater caught fire, which was the NTSB's conclusion. Yet, many believe the fire was caused by careless drug use. Rest in pieces, Ricky.
Food, drink, merriment, catching up.
Leave the lobby of the hotel and walk north by northeast.
In 35.8 smoots, after roughly 15 feet of decrease in elevation, turn left or west by northwest (Reminds me of a really good Hitchcock movie) and continue walking.
After 22.2 smoots, enter the restaurant.
You are at our dinner location. If you felt the need to drive here, then you may want to avoid our spelunking adventure tomorrow afternoon. Wienie.(Wintzells Oyster House, 14455 US 431 S. Guntersville, AL)
While on our spring cruise last year, I wanted us to visit Wintzells Oyster House in Mobile, but I could not make it work. Long after choosing our hotel for this spring cruise, I discovered much to my delight a Wintzell's no more than a stone's throw (or about 57 smoots) from hotel front door.
Wintzell's Oyster House is a historic landmark on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama, a city that was established more than three-hundred years ago. The original Wintzell's location has been open for over seventy-five years and is known far and wide for "Oysters-fried, stewed, or nude."
Founded in 1938 by J. Oliver Wintzell and initially began as a small, six-stool oyster bar. Since then, the restaurant and brand have grown significantly. Though the Wintzell's family sold the restaurant in the 1980s, the original décor, complete with walls covered in hundreds of J. Oliver Wintzell's witty sayings, remains wholly intact.
After dinner, there is a DQ just 56 smoots to the east, should you need to address a sweet tooth.
Or, return to the hotel the way we came, and try not to get lost.
The fun starts tomorrow morning
Please be at the drivers' meeting at 9am
We need to leave at 9:15
(168 miles or 159,531 smoots total. Gas stop at 100 miles)
SEGMENT ONE, 34 miles. Snakes, Indians, and, uh, curling? Oh my!
Leave the hotel parking lot, turning south on US 431.
In .21 miles, merge right onto frontal or access road, and then immediately merge onto Spring Creek Drive.
A stone's throw later, turn left onto old Alabama 205.
You will soon (1.3 miles) go straight through an intersection, you are now on new Alabama 205.
In 1.4 miles, turn right onto 131 and then immediately veer left onto 91. (As you are turning onto 131, you are basically looking right into 91. There is a large rock between the two roads, you should pass to the left of it.)
For reasons unknown, 91 is also called Turnpike Road. In 5.76 miles, 91 ends at Walnut Street/Old Turnpike Road, turn right.
The area we are passing through was originally Cherokee Indian tribal land but is also near the territory of the Creek nation. Infamously, in the 1830s the indigenous Indian populations were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma. This was called the Trail of Tears.
The town of Albertville, just east of us, was totally flattened by a tornado in 1908. The devastation was complete as seen below, yet amazingly only 15 residents were killed.
The 1992 winter Olympics were held in Albertville France. So, enterprising locals organized and conducted mock winter games in Albertville Alabama. Many southern radio stations capitalized on this and held contests to give away tickets to 'the Albertville games'. There is no word regarding who won the gold for curling at the Albertville games, but I'll bet it involved lots of beer.
In 1.5 miles, turn right onto South Broad Street.
In just .45 miles, turn right at Mount Vernon Baptist church. You are now on Mt. Vernon Drive.
Drive 2.14 miles.
Turn left onto West Mill Avenue or 168.
Drive .76 miles and turn right onto Peppers Road.
.2 miles later, turn right onto 179.
Drive 10.1 miles to where the road ends. This is US 278.
Turn left onto 278, and drive 4.8 miles.
US 278 turns right at the freeway and joins 431. Continue south on 278.
In 2.07 miles, in downtown Attalla, 278 makes a hard right at 5th Avenue NW. Take the turn.
Attalla, population 6,048 was originally a Cherokee Indian village. Attalla is the Cherokee word for 'mountain'. Attalla was the birthplace of Auburn football great 'Cadillac' Williams. Attalla is noteworthy for being the first town in the US to get electricity from a hydroelectric dam, in 1887.
Drive 5.85 miles on US 278. You will cross over the Coosa River, get ready to turn right after it.
The Coosa's history is fascinating and rich. The name Coosa came from the great Coosa chiefdom that dominated this area until the 1830s, ending with the infamous Trail of Tears. The river was used heavily for commerce throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s. It was in fact, one of the country's most crowded riverboat routes at one time. The river stretches from Rome, Georgia to Montgomery where it joins the Alabama River.
Popeye the Sailor-man was partially born on the Coosa. Tom Sims, a Rome, Georgia resident, and popular one-eyed early 1900s riverboat sailor was the inspiration for Popeye. Sims, or 'Popeye' sailed and knew the Coosa well.
The Coosa now has 7 dams on it providing electric power to locals. The dams started appearing in the late 1800s and provided low cost power to Alabamians long before most of the rest of the country had electricity.
Turn right onto North Hood Ave. Hopefully, we will not see any hoods.
Drive .22 miles.
Turn left onto E Broad St.
In just .15 miles, park on the left at Unique Motorcars. (230 East Broad Street, Gadsden, Alabama)
We are in Gadsden Alabama, population 35,931. At the height of riverboat commerce, Gadsden was the second most important port in the state of Alabama, second to only Mobile!
Gadsden is home to Unique Motorcars, makers of fine Cobra replicas since the late 70s. Owned by Maurice and Alan Weaver, along with their mother, Jean. The Weavers are well known in the Cobra community. Their products are considered by many to be some of the best replicas on the market. (not as good as Factory Five)
SEGMENT TWO, 66 miles. Switchbacks, canyons, more Indians, motoring bliss and lunch.
Leave Unique the way we came, back over the river. Turn right onto East Broad, then right onto North Hood, and then left back onto US 278 at the traffic light.
Pass over the Coosa and exit 278 via the off ramp.
At the end of the off ramp turn left, heading north on US 411 or Albert Rains Blvd, or 25.
Stay on this road till we get to Turkeytown, about 8.5 miles. Funkytown is not on this road, it's just a bad disco song.
Turkeytown is named after the Chickamauga Cherokee Chief, Little Turkey. At one time, Turkeytown stretched along both banks of the Coosa river for and astounding 20 miles! It was the largest contemporary Cherokee town in the country. In 1813 the US military established a fort here, Fort Armstrong. The fort was originally garrisoned entirely by Cherokee soldiers and was intended to protect the indigenous Indian population from American frontiersmen as well as hostile Creek Indians. I bet you never read that in a history book.
Turkeytown is the birthplace of John Ross, the Cherokee nation principal chief from 1828-1866. John was mix-breed, the son of a Scot trader who married a Cherokee princess, yet he rose to the highest position possible in the Cherokee nation.
Turkeytown was the site of the first great clash between the Creek and Cherokee nations. Andrew Jackson tried to help the Cherokee nation and responded to direct pleas by their chiefs for assistance, sending troops and supplies. Today, Andrew Jackson is widely believed to have hated Indians, something that does not appear to be true. Sometimes, history looks very different depending on whether you study it or lived it.
Just past Turkeytown, the road merges down to two lanes from four, stay on this road.
In 9.4 miles, turn left onto Industrial Blvd or 68.
In 9.7 miles turn right onto South Valley Avenue or US 11.
In 9.61 miles, turn right onto Dogtown Road or 81, let's get funky. (Sorry, can't help myself)
In 3.4 miles, cross through the intersection and continue, now on 176 or Little River Canyon Road. The Canyon features many waterfalls including DeSoto falls. Alabama's highest waterfall is in the canyon and features a 133-foot waterfall.
9.999 miles later, which is almost 10 miles, turn into the overlook parking area. Go look at stuff.
From here, continue on 176 or Little River Canyon Road.
Little River Canyon became a national preserve in 1992. The Little River itself, is the longest mountaintop river in the US.
Continue on 176 for 5.44 miles and then turn right onto 35.
Drive across the bridge and in ¼ mile turn into the parking look. Take a quick hike down to Little River Falls.
Little River Falls marks the beginning of Little River Canyon, which we just toured.
The water fall is 45 feet most of the year but is dependent on season and rainfall.
The trail to the lower viewing station is ¾ mile each way, with more than 200 feet elevation change. We have the cavern tour later today, take this into consideration.
Leave by turning left onto 35.
We will be shedding some elevation on the other end of this road. So, you flatlanders and city slickers, use a lower gear lest you burn up your brake pads.
In 6.6 miles, after getting into the valley, veer left onto Adamsburg Avenue or 3rd Street.
In just .59 mile, turn left onto US 11 or 35 or Gault Avenue.
This is Fort Payne, population 14,012. As with most of this area, Fort Payne is a former Cherokee Indian settlement. Sequaoyah lived here. He was a silversmith and invented Cherokee syllabary which lead to reading and writing among the tribespeople. Later in life he invented disco and promptly put to death.
There are a few notable people who hailed from Fort Payne.
Jeff Cook and Randy Owen, founders of the band Alabama.
Mystery writer Thomas Cook.
Mark Biddle, Old Testament Scholar.
The Flock family of NASCAR fame.
Katherine Stinson, the 4th woman in the US to become a licensed pilot. Katherine was a noted acrobatic pilot and set many aviation records.
Edward Stinson, Katherine's brother, who was inspired by his sister and founded the Stinson Aircraft Company, known for its well-made and innovative mono wing designs.
When he died in a plane crash in 1932, Edward had logged more than 16,000 hours, more than any other pilot at that time.
A beautiful Stinson Gullwing is pictured below:
Drive .62 mile and turn right onto Glenn Blvd.
After 1.3 miles turn onto Airport Road.
Now this is funny: Take the first right which is Cracker Barrel Road, which then becomes Ruby Tuesday Lane, but we will protest this blatant government favoritism and instead dine at the Santa Fe Cattle Company. Yes, we are rebels, we are, the Cobra Clan. (Sante Fe, 305 Ruby Tuesday Lane, Fort Payne, Al) app. 12:30
SEGMENT THREE, 47 miles. Stalagmites, mystery, a deep, dark abyss, legal intrigue and a good walk.
Leave via 35, headed away from the interstate.
In ¼ mile, turn into the gas station on the right. (Kangaroo, 1915 Glenn Blvd, Fort Payne, Al)
Leave the station and continue in the same direction.
In 2.1 miles turn right onto 494.
After 3.4 miles, make an acute left onto 27.
27 eventually becomes 59, just stay on the road for 14.93 miles.
We will pass through Sylvania, Alabama, noteworthy only for being unnoteworthy.
Turn right at 71.
Drive 1.3 miles and make a cute left, or is that acute, can't remember, onto 40 or 423.
After 6.85 miles, turn right onto 35 or Veterans Drive.
Go over the river and turn left in 3.3 miles onto John T. Reid Parkway or US 72, in Scottsboro.
Scottsboro's population is just over 14,000. Right now, you are about 30 miles to both the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. (East and North respectively)
In 1931 nine black teenagers were arrested in Scottsboro and charged with raping two white women. The court case that followed is considered by many in jurisprudence to be one of the most important criminal legal cases of the last century. Now commonly known as the Scottsboro Boys case, the first two trials were held in Scottsboro, were rushed and featured lynch mobs, unsubstantiated claims by prosecutors, and laughably unbelievable witnesses. It was a true mob mentality 'kangaroo court'. Ultimately the case went before the US supreme court two times and led to the establishment of the principle that criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel, and that people may not be de facto excluded from juries due to their race.
The first trials found the boys convicted and sentenced to death. However, the case made it to the supreme court before the sentences were carried out, and that court ruled that the convictions were obtained improperly. The boys spent between 6 and 19 years in prison, and all were pardoned by Governor George Wallace in 1976.
In 2004 an historical marker was erected in Scottsboro commemorating the Scottsboro Boys trial and the boys struggle for justice.
Drive 1.62 miles and make a left onto South Broad Street or 279.
In 3.2 miles, go straight through the intersection, you are now on 79, but it is still South Broad.
After 4.36 miles turn right onto 77.
4.28 miles later, turn right onto Babe Wright Road.
In 2.5 miles, turn left onto Cathedral Caverns Road.
Go 1.78 miles and turn left onto Cave Road. Go to the end and park. (Cathedral Caverns State Park, 637 Cave Road, Woodville, Al) app. 3:00
Cathedral Cavern features a huge opening at 126 feet wide by 25 feet high. Originally called Bat Cave, the cavern became a state park in 2000. Inside you will see 'goliath', 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference, it is one of the largest stalagmites in the world. One stalagmite in the cavern is 27 feet tall and only 3 inches wide. The cave is on land owned by the Cherokee tribe of NE Alabama, and was featured in two Hollywood productions, 1983's Secrets of the Phantom Caverns, and 1995's Tom and Huck
Cave tour is about 1.5 miles with some elevation change and lasts approximately 90 minutes.
SEGMENT FOUR, 21 miles. Back to the hotel, the fast way and beautiful Lake Guntersville.
Leave the way we came but turn left onto Cathedral Caverns Road.
Drive 1.82 miles and turn left onto 5 or Cathedral Caverns Highway.
In 8 miles, turn left onto US 431.
Drive 10.68 miles and turn right into the hotel parking lot. (14451 US Highway 431, Guntersville, AL)
SEGMENT FIVE, 8 miles. The first rule of Italian driving, "What's behind me, is not important."
Leave the hotel parking lot and turn right on US 431.
Drive 7.1 miles to Albertsville, Alabama.
Turn right onto North Broad Street.
Drive .6 miles, turn left onto Main Street. Find a place to park. (Mater's Pizza & Pasta, 108 East Main Street, Albertsville)app. 7:30
Return the way we came
To be continued tomorrow morning
Please be in the staging area at 9am
(187 miles. Gas stop at 86 miles)
SEGMENT SIX, 85 miles. Race cars, race tracks, the iron city and, Arnold?
Exit the hotel by turning left on US 431.
In .76 mile, turn left onto 79.
15.4 miles later, in the town of Brooksville, turn left onto US 278 or 74.
Follow this road for 5.6 miles.
Turn right onto 75.
Drive 13.57 miles and turn left onto 53 or US 231 in downtown Oneonta.
Oneonta, population 6,567 is home to the annual Covered bridge festival that celebrates covered bridges, of which there are several remaining in the area.
How many of you remember this covered bridge that our group visited on the second spring cruise?
Oneonta was home to a POW camp during WWII.
In 3:16 miles turn right on 29.
After 1.92 miles, turn right onto 27.
In 9.37 miles, 27 becomes 9 or Murphrees Valley Road, just stay on this road.
In another 4.2 miles, in downtown Springville, turn right at Main Street or 7.
Hear that? Listen hard, y'all, and you might hear the theme song to Green Acres. Hank Patterson is from Springville. You likely know Hank better as Mr. Fred Ziffel. Actually, you probably know his pig better than him.
Drive 1.5 miles and turn left onto Mountain View Road, see ya later Arnold!
5.5 miles later, turn right onto 12.
After 5 miles, turn left onto 6 or Sanie Road.
In just .76 mile, turn right onto Old Acton Road.
In 3.6 miles, take a right onto Acmar Road.
Drive 1.999 miles and turn left onto 10 or Park Avenue.
Just under a mile later, turn right onto 25 or Highway 411 or Moody Parkway.
After 4.49 miles, turn right at 4 or Parkway Drive or US 78.
You are in Leeds, Alabama. It was here, in 1887 that "steel-driving man" John Henry, son of a former slave, raced and beat a steam powered rock hammer, by driving his rock drill into a rock with just muscle, a sledge hammer, and sheer determination. He died moments after winning the race, sledge hammer still in hand, his heart having given out from the stress. The moment is immortalized in song, plays, and books. Competitive rock hammering is huge in the mining community to this day. Look it up on YouTube, you will be impressed.
Leeds is just outside Birmingham which was founded in 1871 by combining three farm town communities during the Civil War Reconstruction period. The city's population is 212,000, with more than 1.1 million people living in the metropolitan area. That is more than 25% of the entire population of the state of Alabama. I have never spent time here (other than on the racetrack at Barber) but am told by several people who have lived in the area that Birmingham is a great city to live in; in fact, something of an unknown treasure.
And, lest you think the city is just one big redneck town, you should know that it has one of the highest per capita education levels in the country. Birmingham hosts three major law schools, several University of Alabama colleges, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and three private colleges including the academically acclaimed Samford University.
You have likely heard that Birmingham is known as the iron city, and sometimes referred to as the Pittsburgh of the south. That is because Birmingham is the only place in the US where all three main raw materials used to make steel can be found nearby (iron ore, coal, limestone).
In 2.53 miles, turn left onto Rex Lake Road.
.65 mile later, turn right into Barber Motorsports Parkway.
Follow the road for a little more than a mile, cross over the intersection and park at the museum. (Barber Motorsports Museum, 6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Leeds, Al)
Barber motorsports park is home to the North American Porsche driving school and hosts the annual IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama, which by the way is next weekend. Built by George Barber, the track is 2.3 miles long and has 17 turns. The museum boasts the world's largest collection of motorcycles, as well as the world's largest collection of Lotus race cars.
George Barber's father started Barber Dairies in the 1930s. It became the largest dairy company in Alabama, and one of the earliest promoters of pasteurized milk in the country.
George Barber became a race car driver then real estate developer and philanthropist. His museum is considered by motorsports enthusiasts the world over to be one of the best in existence. The
track was designed by renowned track architect Alan Wilson and is very technical. Some of its 17 turns are designed to mimic world class corners such as Nürburgring's wild carousel, and Laguna Seca's famous corkscrew. It has scary off camber, blind, high-g corners with lots of elevation change. I have suffered from motion sickness every time I've raced this track. It is brilliant. Below is a track map of Barber:
SEGMENT SEVEN, 5 miles. Time for a fajita and a siesta.
Leave Barber via the motorsports parkway. Resist the urge to race each other.
Turn left onto Rex Lake Road.
Drive .63 mile and turn into gas station on the right. (Chevron 6995 Parkway Drive, Leeds, Al)
Leave the station and get on I-20, headed toward Hotlanta.
In 4.2 miles, exit onto US 411 or Ashville Road, turning right.
Drive ¼ mile and turn into the parking lot on the right. (Guadalajara, 1800 Ashville Road, Leeds)
SEGMENT EIGHT, 97 miles. Ashville, Altoona, Alabama mountain roads; we wind this one down.
Depart the restaurant to the south, on US 411 or Ashville Road.
Drive 1.09 miles and turn left onto 25 or Whitmire Street.
In .65 miles, turn left onto Parkway Drive, or 4.
In just .38 miles, turn right onto Dunnavant Road or 25.
Enjoy some winding roads.
In 4.5 miles, Dunnavant turns right, stay on 25.
In 4.38 miles, turn left onto 43 or Wolf Creek Road.
In 3.54 miles, the road joins 55 and becomes 27, just keep going straight.
In 3.45 miles, turn left onto Camp Winnataska Road.
Drive 5.21 miles and turn left onto US 78 or 4.
In 1.99 miles, make and acute right onto Kelly Creek Road.
Drive 6.8 miles and turn left onto 174.
In 2.76 miles, turn right onto 25, or US 411.
10.68 miles later, turn left, staying on US 411 and joining US 231 or the Heart of Dixie Highway.
4.11 miles later, we are in Ashville, follow US 231 around the courthouse and stay on 231.
This is Ashville, Alabama, population 2,212.
On April 27, 2011 Ashville was struck by an EF-4 tornado. 13 people lost their lives in the storm along with significant damage to homes, businesses, and farms. The valley that Ashville is in was basically blocked by trees knocked over during the storm. In some cases, it took hours for rescuers to arrive in parts of Ashville.
Howard Hill, the 'world's greatest archer' is buried here. In addition to winning 196 archery competitions, he was Errol Flynn's stunt double.
Drive 11.84 miles and turn right onto 20.
Go 2.41 miles. Turn right onto Tait's Gap Loop.
Just .38 miles later, merge right onto 132.
After 5.86 miles, turn left onto 41.
This is Altoona, Alabama, population 933. The town was formed in 1900 and was a coal mining town. It is named after another coal mining town, Altoona Pennsylvania.
Drive 4.09 miles and turn left onto 74.
In 4.42 miles, turn right onto 75.
Drive 12.32 miles. Turn left onto 91.
In 4.09 miles, turn left onto 205.
Follow 205 2.83 miles till it ends at Spring Creek Drive. Turn right.
Immediately turn left onto US 431.
In just .31 mile, turn left into the hotel parking lot. (Hampton Inn, 14451 U.S. Highway 431 South, Guntersville)
SEGMENT NINE, 7.5 miles. Curvy roads, crawfish, cocktails, and coo-coos.
Exit the hotel parking lot to the north on 431.
In just over 2 miles turn right on Lusk Street.
Just over the bridge, at .9 mile turn right onto Wyeth Drive.
In .71 mile turn left onto Eagle Mountain Road.
Drive 3.15 miles.
Veer left onto Hardin Road. Wyeth veers to the right, basically go straight, into Hardin.
Drive .33 mile and turn left into the parking lot. (Craw-mamas, 5000 Web Villa, Guntersville)
After dinner, get on the frontage road, drive north back to the hotel, about 314 smoots away.
Meet in the hotel lobby for some awards and the sweet sorrow of parting.
Reptile Roundup Update
The Reptile Roundup for 2018 will be held the weekend of October 25, 26 and 27 in the Cocoa/ Melbourne Florida area. Plans are underway at this time for our event. Please mark your calendars.
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