Despite turmoil across the country and the world in recent months, Bennett Spring State Park is still a place to find some peaceful relaxation on a sunny summer afternoon.
Jim Cook, of Manhattan, Kan., fell in love with Bennett Spring as a child, coming with his uncle.
“I try to get down here two or three times a year,” he shared while fishing at the head of the spring on a hot, muggy day. “Things have changed a lot here over the years, so many improvements in the park. There’s more camping spots now and when I first came here, the old park store was closer to the bridge.”
Cook works for the county appraiser’s office in his home area in Kansas but says he really enjoys the peace that trout fishing and Bennett Spring offers.
“It’s just such a good chance to get away from everything,” he said.
Marci Coons, of Springfield, Mo., also comes to Bennett Spring two or three times a year.
“Sometimes, my fiance, Bruce Robbins and I come just for the day and sometimes, we come and stay in one of the cabins for a night or two,” Coons said. “I went fishing as a kid and then got away from it but have now taken it back up as an adult. I’m not really a flyrod fisherman, like Bruce. That’s more detailed than I can manage right now.”
Coons works for a bank and credit card company and loves being on vacation at Bennett Spring.
“It is such a beautiful peaceful place and lets me get away from everything including technology. There’s also the camaraderie here of the other fishermen. It’s special that we are all here, just fishing, no matter where we come from, no matter what we do,” she said.
Sgt. John Schruga, a Ft. Leonard Wood drill sergeant, and his 5-year-old son Jacob were enjoying their first trip to Bennett Spring on this summer day. While dad was concentrating on the trout fishing, Jacob was fascinated by the tiny frogs and tadpoles he found along the wing dam where his father was fishing.
“Look at these!” Jacob shouted with glee.
Still, he took time to help his dad pull in the trout he caught that afternoon.
Originally from Michigan, the sergeant is more accustomed to fishing for walleye and perch as well as duck hunting up north, rather than trout fishing.
“We’ve been fishing on base at Miller Springs and also at Maramec Spring State Park at St. James, near the fort, but this is our first trip to Bennett. It’s great! I have also been duck hunting up near Kansas City, since moving here almost a year ago,” he said.
Shruga, who works training combat engineers, and his wife have three small children, including another son, Reese age 3 and a daughter, Caleigh, age 4.
“We’ve been busy during all of this lock down just trying to keep them busy, taking the three kids to the river, whatever we can do!” he added with a laugh.
And a day at Bennett Spring keeps everyone busy in the very best way in the tumultuous days that have become the year 2020.