Reality TV Star Visits Area In Latest Role
By Claudia Schwab
Standing amidst the tall Rockbridge County megaliths known as Foamhenge, Jeff Schroeder wondered just how old they are.
That was on Monday, the 103rd day of his round-the-world trip.
On Thursday, he is due to be in New York City to appear on “The Early Show” to talk about his globetrotting experiences.
But, he still had to get there.
Schroeder’s only problem is that he was doing this global trip penniless, dependent on others to get him there.
Schroeder, an increasingly popular reality television celebrity known from previous work on “Amazing Race” and “Big Brother,” is the performer/host/subject of CBS Internet show “Around the World for Free.” Episodes of the show can be viewed on CBS.com/world.
His brief stay in the Rockbridge area this week was courtesy of Collierstown resident Katrina Flowers.
“I just follow the show and put an offer out to have him (Jeff) come to Lexington,” said Flowers, who not only hosted him at her home but drove him around and paid for his airfare to fly from Florida to Roanoke where she met him.
Schroeder began the global trip in July from New York.
“The object is to get around the world without a penny in your pocket,” said Schroeder. “It’s a show that’s live and 100 percent interactive with the audience and you travel with the help of audience participation.
“I’ve always loved travel and wanted to get into hosting so this was a perfect match,” he added.
All along the way, Schroeder has had offers of assistance that have helped him travel across Southeast Asia, through Europe and finally, back to America. AT&T sponsored the trip and gave him a smart phone with which to stay connected to his audience and the rest of the world. The trip, however, turned out to be slightly longer than the original 100 days of travel anticipated.
“I got stuck in Laos,” he said. “I needed $17 for the bus ticket out and couldn’t get it. I was in a little village and couldn’t get any Internet connection to get audience help. I was stuck there for four days. Finally, I walked to a city and went in a hotel and used a computer.”
Just prior to coming to Rockbridge County, Schroeder was in Miami. Although he had had other responses and invitation options of where to go next, Schroeder said he was most intrigued by the one from Flowers.
“Katrina’s husband, Robert, is a Lexington police officer and I thought it would be neat to come and ride around in his squad car,” he said. “But, actually, I ended up riding with (Lt.) Bucky (Miller). It was quiet in town Sunday evening since it was during the Halloween trick-or-treat but I got to give out candy and interact with the community.”
Flowers had arrived very late Saturday night, actually at 1 a.m. Sunday.
“We chilled that night, then the next morning we filmed at Rock Bottom Dairy farm in Brownsburg where we milked cows and got to see the whole operation,” he noted. Even though Schroeder is from the Midwest (Chicago), he had never witnessed a dairy operation in action nor even been on a farm, he said.
Monday, Schroeder saw some local attractions such as Lee Chapel and Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. Schroeder said after doing so much overseas travel, it was really refreshing to come to a place like Lexington.
“I like Lexington – it has an any-town-USA kind of feel,” he said.
When last seen Monday afternoon, Schroeder said he would go to Lee-Hi Truck Stop Tuesday morning to see about getting a ride to New York City where he would wrap up the production and, hopefully, make his Thursday “Early Show” deadline.
Asked what was next, Schroeder couldn’t answer except to say, “I look forward to having money in my pocket.”