Discovering Alabama One Day Trip at a Time

Last Updated 1/29/2024Posted in Featured, Stories

by Lavinia Ray

Haruki Murakami said, "And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." 

The "storms" began for the Ray family in Fultondale, Alabama, in March of 2019 with a barrage of medical issues, including repeated surgeries and the death of a beloved family member. In March, nearly a year into the painful recovery, we were hit by a worldwide pandemic and shutdown. What was difficult before became harder. Sadness, isolation, and depression began to creep into what had always been our happy home. In early May of 2020, feeling the world's weight on my shoulders, I heard a bird singing, looked out the window, and said to myself, "our happy place isn't gone, it just moved outside!" It hit me like a bolt of lightning! I immediately went to my spouse and said, "we are going for a ride." This was easier said than done because we would have to bring along a wheelchair, food, drinks and make sure we would be somewhere with public restrooms still available.

Once we returned from our ride, we were so reinvigorated it was palpable. Then and there, I realized that we had everything we needed to pull ourselves out of the darkness and that I needed to share this with my fellow Alabamians. We, as a people, were hurting, the pandemic was taking lives, and we were all lost and scared. That evening, I realized I needed to create a Facebook group to share what we had learned and encourage others to just go outside. No matter how much money you had, what fears you had about being around people, or where you were in Alabama, you could bring yourself and others joy. The Day Trips in ALABAMA Facebook group was created on 17 May 2020 and, by 18 May, had 99 members.

Over that first year, we encouraged people to post pictures from their trips and their local areas. So many people thanked us for starting the page and shared stories similar to ours. Those who couldn't get out lived vicariously through the posted pictures and the community we were building.

Personally, we have visited 85 cities, some multiple times, and been through that many more. There is one constant, Alabama is beautiful! I am not an Alabama native. I grew up in Iowa. I love Iowa, but I have loved Alabama even more over the past two years. Our beautiful backroads, lakes, mountains, small towns, and cities do not care  about those things that divide us. Alabama welcomes every one of us to learn about her history and beauty.

Two years in, Day Trips in ALABAMA has 112K members, adds about 900 more each week, and has grown to five administrators. Our group ranges in age from 18 to over 65 and up, and we have members from every county. We pride our group in being one of the nicest, welcoming, no-drama pages. One of the rules, to which we hold firm, is "no disparaging remarks about Alabama." It is a page dedicated solely to Alabama and solely to positivity.

As we are coming out of the pandemic, we realized a need to share places to eat when we went on our daytrips, so we created a sister group named Restaurants in Alabama that has grown to a little over 4K members.

We have weathered the storm, and we are not the same people we were when the storm started. Over one hundred and twelve thousand people from all walks of life have come together to share what God has created for us. We are stronger, and we now see the beauty we missed for so long because we were too busy to see. We have done it all for the love of Alabama.

Please join us on Facebook by searching "Day Trips in ALABAMA."
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