A few words that describe Roamin’ Rich: Explorer, non-conformist, advocate, publicist, guide, seeker, inspired, encouraging.
Roamin’ Rich during the first 15 years of his life grew up in old town St. Charles Missouri, just blocks away from where some of the most notable explorers and trails started their landmark expeditions. Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail all started just a few thousand feet from where Roamin’ Rich learned how to explore. Rich had unbridled ambition as a child. At the age of 7 years old after learning how to ride a bicycle, Rich began roaming beyond his immediate neighborhood in search of new discoveries. Most days of his youth were spent rousing his imagination in pursuit of a great adventure. Young Rich never shied away from quests, and there were few hurdles that would prevent him from fulfilling his curiosity. He didn’t realize it, but Rich preferred to Go His Own Way… marching to the beat of his own drum so to speak.
Roamin’ Rich became interested in road exploration as a child. Family road trips along Interstate I44 in the 1980’s piqued his interest. Peering out the side of the window of the family car, Rich spotted dead end roads and provocative buildings that led him to wonder about the origin and fate of these places. Most of these places are gone today, but some are still standing like John’s Modern Cabins, and the Ozark Motor Court. Rich always wanted to know where those old dead end roads led. Reminiscing about his childhood road trips Rich recounts how his father would always explain as they drove west through Strafford, Missouri that this bumpy, click-clackity road they were traveling was Route 66. – Rich’s dad explained to them all how Route 66 was the old highway people traveled to get to California. Those stories forever stuck with Rich and provoked the inquiry as to what lied beyond on this road to the Golden Coast.
Rich’s parents took the family on many road trips; usually three or more a year. Roamin’ Rich’s mother also happened to be quite knowledgeable on ancient history and archeology. She had a constant desire to learn and to travel. She wanted to be everywhere. His parents influence most certainly molded him to who he is and for what he stands for today. – A wandering adventure that tirelessly searches for road archeology.
The Go Your Own Way spirit carried with him throughout his teens and into his twenties. When everyone else his age was worried about partying, college, or what the world expected them to be, Rich decided to find his own path, his own calling. Rich became self-employed, reinvesting his efforts continuously to this very day.
Because Rich has been successfully self-employed since his twenties, he has been able to pursue other interests at his leisure. Route 66 has always been in the back of his mind since his dad would talk about the highway on trips to the family farm in Springfield, Missouri. Curiosity developed into an obsession as Rich started looking for sections of the road and began tracing them out onto a GPS enabled map system on his laptop. He would take casual, short trips looking for the path through Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas. It wasn’t until the advent of satellite maps made available through search engines that Rich’s obsession evolved into a full on addiction. Countless hours of staring at satellite images on a computer screen consumed Rich just so he could trace out and perfect his electronic map.
Starting around 2004, Rich ramped up his efforts to find all the remaining sections of Route 66. He began collecting books, old maps, guides, post cards, or anything else that would help put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Roamin’ Rich’s obsession still compels him to search out and find orphaned, remnant alignments of Route 66 and other old US highways with preceding segments. Discoveries as recent as early 2015 keep him and his syndicate of road experts turning over the stones so to speak in hopes of finding another piece of history.
As the road evolves, Roamin’ Rich is always on the look out for new places, people, and businesses that compliment or add to the Route 66 community. Those discoveries are what keep the road alive and attractive to tourists, explorers, and historians all around the world.