Back in Time
At a West Virginia resort, there’s old-school fun all around
The breakfast bell rang, and Paula and I joined the Masters family in the dining hall at a long table covered by a green and white gingham tablecloth. (Full capacity is 250, and longtime guests earn seating seniority.) As dishes of farm-fresh eggs, bacon and biscuits, and carafes of coffee and hot chocolate moved around the table, everyone discussed what they’d be doing that day. Some had golf plans, others had signed up for the long-established, weekly 1-mile road race.
But mostly, the conversation centered around food. The menu—comfort food and lots of it—doesn’t change week to week or year to year. Guests eagerly await, for example, Monday night chicken barbecue or Saturday mac and cheese.
I walked out into the sun and found myself flowing—in that delightful way that comes with unplanned days—between unhurried conversations, hammock naps and reading. I was surprised at how soon I heard flute music piping from the trees to indicate lunch, and then dinner. After the dinner music began, I walked back to the Pavilion, where our rooms were, to find Paula. She was sitting on the white-columned veranda drinking scotch out of a plastic cup from the bathroom, reading The Catcher in the Rye. She couldn’t have looked more at home.
Dinner was meatloaf, stewed tomatoes, creamy green beans with fried onions, Brussels sprouts, and house-made bread and apple butter. I left early to meet Ben to prepare for the sing-along. We sat with Marshall, a banjo player from Vermont, and Bellingham, who played the recorder. I scanned the set list and smiled, seeing songs as familiar as old friends: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “The Wheels on the Bus” and “She’ll be Coming ’Round the Mountain.”
After the sing-along, animal noses safely stored away, the grown-ups headed to the adjacent living room for a bluegrass duo. I sneaked out a side door and walked toward my room. At the Pavilion, I opened my screen door and enjoyed its creak. The walls were painted the color of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and two twin beds were covered with pilled mustard-colored blankets and faded pastel bedspreads. A few wire hangers hung in the closet.
I climbed into bed next to the back screen door and closed my eyes, unable to differentiate between the babble of the creek and the patter of the rain. I had booked a spa soak the next morning, but I was disheartened, realizing that Paula and I would have to leave shortly after the appointment. Capon already felt like the beloved camp I never visited as a child, and the other guests had become fast friends. Alice had encouraged us to stick around for bingo that evening. Bellingham wanted me to be at the talent show. “Come back for the campfire songs,” Ben said. And Alice’s daughter urged us to stay for chocolate cream pie night. I fell asleep, reconsidering my departure.
If You Go…
Capon Springs and Farms is about two hours west of Washington, D.C. The 115-room resort has 14 separate historic cottages with a variety of room types—some with private baths, some designed for families, some handicapped-accessible. It’s open from late April to early November. Rates range from $110 to $175 per person, per night, which includes three all-you-can-eat meals daily, morning and evening snacks, laundry facilities and recreation: swimming, tennis, pickleball, disc golf, croquet, badminton, basketball, horseshoes, volleyball, shuffleboard and Ping-Pong. The resort has six hiking trails. Kids younger than 5 are free, and rates are discounted for kids 5 to 12. Weekly rates are available. Alcohol isn’t served, but guests are welcome to bring their own and drink in their rooms or on their porches. Quiet hours begin at 11 p.m. There’s limited cell service; internet and TV are in one common area only. Golf and a spa are available for additional fees.
Capon Springs and Farms, 3818 Capon Springs Road, High View, West Virginia; 304-874-3695; caponsprings.net
Melanie D.G. Kaplan (melaniedgkaplan.com) is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Find her on Twitter: @melaniedgkaplan.