I’ve been getting some strange looks when I tell people about my vacation. Those of us who’ve experienced Capon Springs agree: it’s hard to explain.
For example, what exactly is relaxing about sweating through your clothes in 98 degree heat while swatting the persistent gnats that seem bent on flying straight into your eyeballs? What exactly is magical about a place in nowhere West Virginia that you get to by driving 3 miles over a mountain on a gravel road?
The answer is simple, just like the place:
When you arrive at Capon Springs, you step back into time. Sure, there isn’t any air conditioning, reality television or bars on your cell phone; but the tradeoff is clean mountain air, clear Capon water and all the time in the world to dream. Do not, under any circumstances, mention that you miss Starbucks or regulated temperatures or news of the world at large. It’s not the Capon Way.
At Capon Springs, every day is like the 4th of July. In the morning, we all raise the flag and salute it together. Later, if we’re very lucky, Uncle Mark treats us to some trivia about the War of 1812.
Three times a day, we all filed into the dining hall and eat copious amounts of home-cooked food served to us by Bonnie (who we secretly all wanted to take home with us), or if we were unlucky enough to sit at the kids’ table, we were served by Dr. Evil’s wife. Either way, we didn’t have to plan the meals, cook the meals, or clean up the dishes, and ordering 2 desserts was not at all frowned upon.
In between all the food (which is really a focal point of the trip, no matter how hard you try for it NOT to be), we played games. Tennis, golf, shuffleboard, ping pong…you name it and you can play it at Capon. You just want to make sure you pick an in-law to play against and not an actual Noll, because they will beat you every time with their super-human athletic skill.
When you’ve peeled your 4th or 5th sweaty shirt off in one day, it’s time to hit the spring fed Capon pool. The 68 degree water is guaranteed to cool you off and possibly eliminate any feeling in your legs for the remainder of the day. When the water starts to feel at all comfortable, the Capon staff will happily drain the pool and refill it with more torturous cold water. It’s the Capon Way.
Sometimes, if we were lucky, they served lunch or dinner “on the hill,” which is a fancy way of saying, “on the golf course.” After a few trips to Capon you start to learn this secret lingo and everything makes more sense. Eating “on the hill” earns everyone the special privilege of playing frisbee or botchee and all those things you’ve fantasized about doing on a golf course. Botchee not your thing? Come back to the golf course after dark, then.
At Capon Springs, no one locks doors and you can have anything you want, as long as you sign your name and promise to pay for it later. Even better, if you sign your brother’s name, then he will pay it for you. You can also basically stop watching your kids because everyone looks out for everyone else and there is no such thing as crime. Just imagine us all singing Kumbaya and you’ve nailed it.
And yes, there actually IS a campfire sing-a-long, and a talent show, too! Capon Springs is like a perfect mix between summer camp for the entire family and a scene from the movie Dirty Dancing. Except instead of Patrick Swayze teaching you to do the lift, you get Jonathan calling out bingo numbers, which is special in its own way.
Probably the best thing about Capon Springs (aside from the Hygeia House spa: think hot tubs and massage therapy) is the family time. Each evening we drank at a different themed “happy hour” on the front porch while the kids blew bubbles or fought over the giant swing. The more clever members of our group (and by that I mean Jen) composed song lyrics extolling the virtues of Capon Springs, including everyone’s favorite: the piquant dressing. (Jen, if you’re reading this, please send me a voice recording that I can attach to the blog–everyone needs to hear you sing “Hoggie Heaven.”)
Then, just when we least expected it, the lights would go off and it was curfew.
And that’s the Capon Way.