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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Author travels roads of Missouri...every little, last one

  • John Drake Robinson likes to travel. He's been in all 50 states and has visited close to 36 countries. However, he hadn't seen enough of his home state, Missouri.
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  • John Drake Robinson likes to travel. He's been in all 50 states and has visited close to 36 countries. However, he hadn't seen enough of his home state, Missouri.
    "Yes I had been on Highway 44 and Highway 70, but I realized that I hadn't been to as many places as I thought," said Robinson.
    That was 13 years ago and since then he has travelled every mile of every road on the Missouri highway map. That equals 36,000 miles, but it took him 250,000 miles to get through them all.
    Robinson, who grew up in Rolla, was in town Wednesday, Dec. 4, signing copies of his 2012 book, "A Road Trip Into America's Hidden Heart," at Larry Bowen's Reader's Corner bookstore.
    From 2002 to 2006, he was the director of tourism for Missouri. Since then, he has been writing full-time.
    He explained that at the start of this project, he was living and working in Columbia.
    "So, if I had business in Springfield, I made sure I would take the back roads down there and was keeping track of my travels," he told the Daily News.
    His partner for these back road stints was his red Pontiac Sunfire whom he calls "Erifnus Caitnop" -Pontiac Sunfire spelled backwards.
    One of his frustrations early on in his adventure was that there were many times when he would be traveling down a capillary road and the road would just end, so he would have to backtrack.
    That stopped when he had the Missouri Department of Transportation sent him all 114 coffee-table size county maps of the state. These detailed maps showed him gravel road connectors and low-water crossings.
    "I kept those 114 maps in the back seat of my car. So when I was in Crawford County, I would pull out my map to figure out how I could get from Dillard's Mill across the Huzzah," he said. "So suddenly I had more information. Throughout this, I never used a GPS. It was all by maps."
    Along the way Robinson met all types of interesting folks and experienced the good, bad and ugly of the Show-Me State.
    "One of my favorite towns was Caledonia (in Washington County). It is the entryway into the Arcadia Valley for people coming from St. Louis. It has more historic buildings per capita than any other town in the world, supposedly. It is just a well-preserved town with some great antique and old mercantile stores."
    On his least favorite list was the town of Montrose on the edge of a duck-hunting area in Henry County.
    "Montrose is in need of a little TLC," he shared. "And there are a number of communities like that. They are very, very small that once were thriving and have since been abandoned."
    A trip around the state road by road didn't quite satisfy Robinson's wander-lust.
    Page 2 of 2 - This love for exploration and discovery led him to his latest work published this year titled "Coastal Missouri." It is a tale of his backwoods travels where he finds all kinds of interesting spots and meets a cadre of characters.

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