By Kendall Vogts
Spring! Most days, it feels like it has finally sprung. As I’m writing today, there is a dusting of snow on the ground, yet I can clearly see the green buds poking through and the sun is shining a life-giving warmth!
There was a time in my life where a coming spring meant being able to spend hours outside running or cross training, in preparation of my next college cross country season. I needed to be in shape, and I wanted to look good. As I have not been a college athlete for two years now, my mindset has changed drastically. My time spent outside running or walking is done to help me feel human, to disconnect with work, to reconnect with myself, and to admire what my body can do, as well as my surroundings.
One of my favorite places to run and reconnect is a place I’ve been hundreds of times, but there is something new and so special about it that has given this place a new meaning.
My hometown is Minneapolis, Kansas, and if you aren’t already familiar with our claim to fame, I’ll fill you in! Just east of Minneapolis, there is a park called Rock City that is quite the landmark. There are hundreds of rocks throughout the park ranging in size. There are some to stand on, jump up to, crawl through, climb up, scale, and jump from the high peak of one rock to the next. Seriously, some of them are huge!
Now, this has been a special place to my family for quite some time as my grandparents were board members, and now my dad has joined that crew. When the nice weather would come, we would go climb on the rocks! As I’ve grown, it has become known as the place where my dad spends hours each weekend, and even most weekdays, once the weather turns warm. My dad has dedicated so much time to caring for the landscaping, mowing, weed eating, building fence, painting, and, most importantly, dreaming. For years he had been secretly dreaming about what this place could be.
Small side note: my older sister and I both ran cross country in college. Our dad was always very involved in our training, being an encourager and coming to as many races as he could. Little did we know, our sport meant more to him than we ever imagined. A while back, I got a phone call from him, and he informed me that he was as building a cross country course around the grounds of rock city. He wanted my opinion on things and wanted me to come check it out to see if it was hard enough, if the paths were wide enough, and if there were good places for spectators. His dream was for my home high school team (where I got my start) to host a cross country race. I was immediately excited!
On the same lands as the rocks, there are open fields of beautiful rolling hills. It was quite the process, but my dad has done it and is ever working to improve it! There is a classic 5k course, complete with signs directing where to go. There are also several different one mile paths to choose from. I am one proud, impressed daughter!
That course, the paths, the rolling hills looking out at the horizon once you reach the top of Donovan’s hill, those are what take me back there, even though I’ve already been there hundreds of times.
So, as everything turns green, as the breezes become warm, and as the sunshine turns sweet, I recommend packing a picnic and taking a trip to Rock City. Climb through the donut-hole rock. Climb up and sit in the bathtub rock. Take a hike on one of the freshly trimmed paths, and if you’re brave jog up Donovan’s hill. If you’re lucky enough to see a man on a mower, flag him down and have a chat! Tell him the editor’s wife sent you his way!
Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.