Chicago native Madeline Oliff moved to Birmingham, Alabama in the Fall of 2020 and stumbled upon the idea to explore the rest of the state. What started as a camping trip with Venture for America flourished into a goal of experiencing all 67 counties in Alabama. Keep reading to hear all about her journey across Alabama.
When Madeline moved to Birmingham nearly three years ago, she recognized the need for community in her life. A few weekends after her move, Madeline went on what she described as a “camping scavenger hunt” with her cohort of Venture for America. The intention was to explore the outdoors and fun places that might be off the beaten path.
“My roommates threw out the idea that we should do this again and keep exploring. I responded “well, there are 67 counties, so we have a goal.”Madeline Oliff
She explained that these adventures started as camping trips and eventually became solo trips, but she began setting parameters for each county—things like supporting a business or starting conversations with locals.
“At one of the stops, I went to a local library where I found a book called the Pastport. This was just more fuel for the rest of the journey. Now I had this resource with all the information to exploring Alabama.”Madeline Oliff
We know Alabama is home to beautiful cities, views, people and so much more, and Oliff expressed her gratitude for the little things she discovered on each of her visits. Many conversations can come from a simple “I’m from Chicago, and I’m trying to visit all 67 counties in Alabama.” Now that Madeline has completed the goal, you may wonder what her favorite parts were.
Some of the journey’s highlights include:
- Barbour County: The Donut King in Eufaula
- Coffee County: Local business scene in Enterprise
- Conecuh County: Conecuh Sausage store in Evergreen
- Elmore County: Seeing the Big Fish movie set in Millbrook
- Henry County: Going back in time with Abbeville’s Huggin’ Molly’s
- Lee County: Side Track in Opelika
Why does a person from one of the biggest cities in the world want to explore sweet home Alabama? One reason is that Madeline wants to be an “ambassador” for the state.
“At Side Track, the barista asked why I was stopping through, and when I explained I was visiting all 67 counties he asked me why. That’s when I came up with the rationale of wanting to explore and learn for the sake of becoming an “ambassador.” He said he’s been around the state, country and world, and there’s no place he’d rather live than in Opelika.”Madeline Oliff
Does anyone else want to round up some friends to visit all 67 counties in Alabama? What can we say, Madeline inspired us.