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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Capon Springs and Farms

If you are looking to step back in time and enjoy the days of kids playing outside, good food, reading a book on the porch and unlocked doors...then I have found the place for you!  It's a little place called Capon Springs and Farms, which sits on 4,700 acres in Hampshire County, West Virginia!  If you are like me, you have never heard of this place before and that is because it has been a well kept secret since the 19th century.

Leave your cell phones and television behind because you will not need them here.  There is one television located in the Meeting House and that is the only place you will find internet access as well.  But after my weekend stay, I can say that I don't think you will miss that TV show or surfing the internet.  

One of the best features of Capon is the amazing water.  Capon, which is a Native American word meaning "medicine waters", has been called a place of healing.  Doctors used to prescribe the water as medicine.  As it turned out, I was in need of some healing the weekend I stayed at this place.  I had just lost my beloved grandmother after spending the prior three weeks at her bedside and broke up with my boyfriend so this weekend felt like a blessing.  I much needed trip away to a place claiming to have healing waters because that was just what I needed. 

You will find this amazing water flowing from all the pipes at Capon.  It is used to prepare all food and drinks.  It is used in the pool and at the spa.  You are even allowed to bring your own containers and fill with as much Capon water to take home with you as you like.

Capon reminded me of a cruise, just on land.  With the low purchase of your room, all meals and activities are included!  What more could you ask for? My biggest regret about my stay is that I didn't have time to research the place more.  I will need to go back and dig into the history of the place a lot more!


Upon arrival, there was a little hiccup with my room.  I was originally booked in the Virginia Cottage for two nights but they only had a reservation for one night.  No worries though, because the amazing friendly staff was right on it to find a different room for me.  I ended up at the Fairfax (room 6) and I'm was a much better room. 

The Fairfax has it's own parking area off to the right and two hiking trails off the back.  Room 6 was on the second floor.  You can see the lamp on in the window of the picture.  This room holds one full size bed and one twin.  It also has it's own bathroom.  It is worth it to read the description of the rooms when you book because some of them have a shared bathroom.  It also has a small balcony which gives you a nice view of the woods.

Ignore the bed all ready turned down for me to climb in with a good book!

This book is inside each room and tells you all you need to know about your stay at Capon.


Inside the Main House (which, helpful hint, most families stay with young children) is a bulletin board which will tell you everything you need to know about your stay.  It will list a menu, activities and other news. 

The day starts at 8:00 am with the breakfast music playing.  A flag ceremony is held at 8:25 am right before the breakfast bell rings at 8:30 am.  After enjoying a wonderful meal (see section below on food), you are left to do many of the activities offered around the resort.

There is many hiking trials all around the resort.  You can ask for maps at the front desk.  If you do not like to hike alone, guided hikes are offered on most Saturdays.  Yellow Trail (2 miles), Orange Trail (2.5 miles)Blue Trail (2.7 miles),  Eagle Rock Trail (3 miles) and Red Trail (7 miles).

If you love to fish, then you can spend the day at Capon's pond which is stocked with trout, bass, perch bluegill and catfish.  You can also borrow an old fashioned bamboo fishing pole and bait from the front desk.  If by chance you catch a fish that is at least 8 inches long, bring it to the kitchen and they will gladly clean and cook it for your breakfast!  No license is required.

The Library is where I spent many hours.  There is so many books to pick from.  There is even a diary where past guests wrote a note or two about their stay.  These books go back many years.  It was fun to read what past guests had to say and the ones that keep coming back year after year. 

There is three tennis courts at Capon and a swimming pool for those outdoor activities or a game room.  It is fully stocked with cards, puzzles and other games.

Last but not least is two golf courses available.  One is a regular nine-hole and the other is a par-3 course.  I'm not really into golf so I'm just going to leave this one alone because I'm sure I can not do it justice.

I almost forgot about the many events like Bingo Party, Spring Tour, Yoga, Film Festival, Campfire Sing-a-long and Hot Dog Roast.  I did enjoy the Bingo Party and be prepared for a belly full of laughs.  They played bingo games I have never heard of!  No worries if you have never won a game because there is one round they will play just to see who doesn't get one number!  It was so much fun and the prizes were pretty great as well.  I missed the Spring Tour which you can learn about the famous Capon water because I was booked at the spa.  I really wished I could have learned more about the water, though. 

And if you happened to forget something, Capon has you covered on that as well.  There is a small store located across from the Front Desk which is stocked with soft drinks, coffee, snacks and other items.  You can leave your cash in the box or write the items on the checkout sheet to be added to your room. There is even an ice machine with buckets free of charge.  Don't worry about packing for the whole week either because Capon also offers a free laundry.  


Now if all that wasn't making you want to book your vacation then the food will.  Capon has a wonderful way to let everyone know that it's meal time.  Meals are served at the same time every day (Breakfast 8:30-9:30am, Lunch 1-2pm and Dinner 6-7pm).  An hour before each meal, you will hear music being played from the loud speakers around the grounds.  At first, I thought this was a little weird but as the day kept moving, I started looking forward to hearing what music they would play. 

Once the bell rings, everyone makes their way to the dinning hall.  On your first day, you are assigned a table and that is the same table you will eat at for the rest of your stay.  I happened to be placed with two sisters and a widow (by choice) that have been coming to Capon since they were children.  And several of the dishes served was prepared using their own beef, pork and eggs.  


Each meal is served family style and you can eat as much as your stomach can handle!  I think I gained 10 pounds just from my weekend.  For my first night we had Broccoli & Cheese Soup, Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, Shrimp Casserole, Rolls and Dessert!  The other meals was just as good.   


I couldn't wait to try out all that the Hygeia Bath House & Spa had to offer so I went there after I got all checked in to make appointments.  Another helpful note to make is you should book your spa appointments well in advance.  The wonderful workers were able to fit me in to most everything they offered, except the Reflexology (hands/feet).  And I have to say, I LOVED everything thing!!!!  This is a must on your trip so try to plan for it.  If I only had to pick one thing, I would pick the Soaking Baths with aromatherapy mineral salts.  Next time, I even plan to book this every day of my trip!

On my first night, I got to enjoy the Personal Exercise Pool/Swim Spa.  For $20 an hour (cheaper for less time), you get to enjoy a heated 86 degree private pool for swimming, aqua jogging, floating or just relaxing.  After a long drive, this was much needed on my tight muscles. 

I loved the jets which allows you to swim in place for as long as you want.  There is also plenty of exercise floats that you can use if you prefer.  The warm water was amazing and having your own private room really allows you to relax.  

This room is supplied with water for drinking, private shower, towels, and bags to put your wet bathing suits in.     

After breakfast the following day, I was ready for my 90 minute massage.  This cost around $120 and was worth every penny.  One thing I did forget, was to bring cash for tips.  They allow you to charge it to your room but I always prefer giving cash tips.  It just slipped my mind to bring some with all that was going on.  Don't be like me, and bring your green.  The people who work here deserves it, believe me! The massage was pretty amazing.  The picture above was after it was finished.  I tried to get pictures before but I wasn't thinking of anything but my massage.  It was very relaxing and I told him what areas I was hurting the most.  He focused on that part and it really did take the pain away.  

Now THIS is my favorite part of the spa!  I went from my massage to the Soaking Bath, which you can rent for $25/30 minutes.  With an extra $7, you can add some aromatherapy mineral salts.  I had them add some orange as my sinus was acting up.  These baths are also in your own private rooms.  They are filled with 500 gallons of pure Capon Water and heated to 102 degrees.  

You walk down four steps and sit in the bath.  The water reaches about chest high and the jets feel so good on your muscles.  These rooms also comes with a shower, towels, drinking water and bags for your wet suits. 

Look at all that steam!  My skin felt amazing after this bath and my sinus pressure also felt so much better. 

After the soaking bath, I went right in for a facial.  This runs around $50/30 minutes.  I'm a huge fan of facials.  He worked wonders with hot towels, lotions and light massage.  This picture was taken after I was finished.


Over all this is truly a breath of fresh air in a world that is changing so fast.  Here generations of families and friends gather each year and you can feel the positive energy that flows through this magical place.  I'm not sure if I believe in the healing waters theory but I can say that I left this place feeling at peace and more relaxed then I had been in months.  I walked in a stranger among family and friends but I left feeling like I had been welcomed with opened arms.  I look forward to going back and staying much longer as this as became one of my favorite places to just get away!  Until next time...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sugarlands Shine

I'm not a huge drinker but while on vacation, I may have been talked into attending a moonshine tasting (or several tastings) at some mighty fine establishments.  After all, how can I call myself a West Virginia gal without tasting moonshine at least once!

Who knew that after I was back home and had finished off my 750 ml jar that I would be looking everywhere to find out how I could get another!

One of the places we went for a tasting was Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, TN.  The laughs hit us way before we ever entered the store and this fun gentlemen was waiting for us just inside the entrance.

For $5 you get to try 12 different moonshine flavors picked for that day.  And yes, each day brings different tastings!  If you decided to purchase a jar of moonshine, the $5 wristband will go toward your purchase.  Win win. 

I LOVE the Dark Chocolate Coffee Sippin' Cream.  Who could pass up the scent of brown sugar and toffee with the added coffee, milk and dark chocolate?  This shine was also the best seller since 2016 and I can guarantee that after the three I had mailed to me is gone, I will be a return customer! 

Monday, August 19, 2019

25th Anniversery of the Shawshank Redemption Tour of the Ohio State Reformatory

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to run in the 5th Annual Shawshank Hustle held at the Ohio State Reformatory.  Along with my ticket for the race, I also got a ticket to tour the Reformatory where the movie the Shawshank Redemption was filmed. 

Ohio State Reformatory History

The land where the Reformatory was built was first used as a civil war training camp in 1861 before being purchased in 1867 for $1,326,769.  Construction took between 1886-1910 for the new Intermediate Penitentiary (original name) and was built to house young first-time offenders.  The designer was Levi T. Scofield who was thought that his design would help encourage inmates to become reborn.  The architect was F.F. Schnitzer and his name can be found on one of the cornerstones.  The name of the Intermediate Penitentiary was changed to Ohio State Reformatory in 1891.

The first 150 offenders were brought to the reformatory on September 15, 1896.  The reformatory still is the only prison that has the largest six tier high free standing steel cell block.  Over 200 people are on recorded of dying at the reformatory, including two guards who were killed during an escape attempt.

Arthur Lewis Glattke was the Superintendent from 1935 to 1959.  His wife, Helen Bauer Glattke, died in November 1950 from pneumonia after she accidentally knocked a handgun to the ground and it discharged while she was reaching into a jewelry box in the family's quarters.  Glattke passed on February 10, 1959, after suffering a  heart attack at his desk.    
The reformatory remained in operation until December 1990 after being ordered to close it's doors by federal court order.  A class action suit (known as Boyd Consent Decree) was brought on by the prisoners (Boyd v. Denton, C.A. 78-1054A(N.D.Oh.)) for overcrowding and inhumane conditions. 

The cells where built to only house one prisoner at a time but over the years with more and more prisoners, the cells became crowded with doubling or tripling bunks.  This caused lots of fights between the inmates and they became crafty with making shanks, shivs, and other items. 

Many of the wardens, guards and staff also lived within the Reformatory walls.  The Warden's living quarters where located on the east side.

The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society was formed in 1995 to turn the prison into a museum.  Tours are daily 11 am to 4 pm and tickets are between $13 to $20.  We did the self guiding tour but I wish we would have gotten the Audio Wand because I felt like I was missing a lot of the history. 

It is said that if you put a chair in an empty room, it will move on its own.
My favorite part of the tour was when I saw these stairs.  It was on the top floor of the living quarters and right in the middle of the hallway.  I was surprised to find the chapel at the top.  It was really beautiful.  It is said that the guards used this space, not for religious purposes, but for torturing inmates.

James Lockhart (inmate #54673) was housed on the fourth floor in cell #13.  He was born in 1938 and died on January 30, 1960 when he committed suicide by stealing turpentine from the prison furniture shop and pouring the liquid over his head before striking a match.  

It is said that this room is filled with ghost activity.  Objects move around the room and a woman glides across the room.  One ghost hunter claims to have captured this woman saying she was a nurse and a prisoner killed her.  You may also hear, "I always liked the library."


This was once the hospital wing but it was changed to the library.


Solitary confinement

The wash room

Underground sewer system. It was dug up so you can see what it was like

The Shawshank Redemption Movie

In 1993, Hollywood producers decided to use the Reformatory as the backdrop of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, based off of the 1982 Stephen King novel, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. 

The film was released in 1994 and was a huge disappointment. The budget for filming was $25 million but it only earned $16 million, largely thanks to being release the same weekend as Forest Gump. On opening night, Frank Darabont, director, and Liz Glotzer, producer, was the only two people in the 900 seat theater at Cinerama Dome. 

A second releasing, however, had the movie receiving multiple award nominations and grossed $58.3 million.  In 1995, the movie became the top rented films.

A fun fact about the movie is that former inmates played many of the extra roles during the film. 

In the scene where Brooks feeds a waxworm to his bird, animal control had the crew wait until they found a waxworm that had already died on its own so that they could say no animals were harmed while making the movie.

The pick Andy used to dig the hole was hidden in the bible starting at the chapter which talks about escaping. 

A chemist was brought in to test the water that Andy would be crawling in and was quoted as saying the water "was absolutely lethal."  Andy still did the take and was greeted with a hot shower right after.  For some of the sewer shots, the crew used chocolate syrup thickened with sawdust for the visual.  Some can still smell the chocolate inside the tunnel. 

The real movie hole used. 

This place is well worth the visit.  Plan to take your time and visit the town as well for other movie site stops.  At the end of the tour is also a gift shop so make sure to pack some extra shopping money!