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His sister, Susan, told John Drake Robinson that “well-traveled kids seem to adjust better to life. They understand how things fit together.”

Robinson tells about that conversation on page 2 of his 185-page book, “A Road Trip Into America’s Hidden Heart: Traveling the Back Roads, Backwoods and Back Yards.”

Robinson — who served as Missouri’s Tourism director from 2002-06 — also wrote that the conversation with his sister, a teacher, “made me stop and take inventory."

After his sister died — and after he left the Tourism Division — Robinson decided to take his own travels along Missouri’s back roads, and find interesting stories waiting to be discovered.

“I found 32,314 stories on the road,” he wrote.

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