Chessie Nature Trail, Lexington VA – March 6, 2021

It was an incredibly beautiful day and we wanted to get outside and enjoy it. I looked up information about a Virginia State Park we hadn’t visited, so maybe we could go there…. Nope–all their trails were temporarily closed. Bummer…. Wayne suggested that we could drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway then cross over to Goshen Pass–but many parts of the Parkway were closed. Well, darn! Where should we go?

We always enjoy being near water, so I started looking up trails along the Maury River near Lexington. One sounded interesting–the Chessie Nature Trail–so I took a quick look at the map to get a general idea of where it was, then we hopped in the car and started down the road.

Since we weren’t in a huge hurry, we opted to head south through the Shenandoah Valley on Rt. 11 instead of on the much busier I-81.

As we arrived in Lexington, I realized I wasn’t exactly sure where the parking area for the trail was, and I hadn’t printed out the map. After we crossed the Maury River, we made a right into Jordan’s Point Park–a place on the Maury that we’d been before. We saw a sign for the Chessie Nature Trail there, but it wasn’t the section where I’d wanted to go. Oh well, no worries–we’d explore this area, first. 🙂

From the parking area, we started walking upstream. I stuck to the path while Wayne explored the rocks along the river.

We then doubled back through the parking area to walk downstream to the “Point” of Jordan’s Point.

There’s a lot of history in Lexington, Virginia, and this area is no exception. We wandered along the short trail loop on the Point, stopping to read the various historical markers and to look at the drawings and photographs of the buildings that used to be on this little bit of land.

So I’m going to pause here to set up a story about what happened next…

Keep in mind that walking on the Chessie Nature Trail was basically option #3 for the day, after a potential visit to a state park and a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway didn’t work out. And also remember that we were on the “wrong” section of the trail and not the part that I’d seen on the map. And after arriving at the “wrong” place, we spent some time exploring a section of the river upstream before officially visiting the “Point” of Jordan’s Point, which is downstream from where we’d parked.

But somehow–as we were apparently moving randomly through time and space–things were falling into place to create a rather extraordinary event:

Wayne and I talk. A lot. Even on extended road trips we talk about the changing scenery, favorite memories, life goals, teaching, spirituality, the state of the world–whatever. We’re ALWAYS talking about one thing or another!

As we were approaching Lexington, our conversation had turned towards our parents (which is a frequent topic of conversation), and I told Wayne that not a day goes by that I don’t think about my mom and dad and how much I miss them. I got teary as I was saying this. I’m not sure what prompted this emotional reaction, but my mom and dad were very much on my mind, and the “missing” was surprisingly intense….

So as we’d almost finished our walk on the short trail loop around Jordan’s Point, I noticed a couple coming up behind us. They were wearing masks, so we put ours on. As they approached we said “Hello,” and as they walked by, I realized that the man was wearing a hat that said, “Crozet Library.” Wait, what?

I got their attention and they stopped and turned around. I said I’d noticed the hat and asked if they were from Crozet and we said that we were. The man said no, he wasn’t from Crozet, but added that he’d given a talk at the Crozet Library several years before and he’d been given the hat then.

I asked what the talk had been about, and he said it was on Claudius Crozet, a French engineer and our town’s namesake.

Well, everything suddenly clicked into place! While I didn’t recognize the man–especially since he was wearing a mask– I’d actually attended this lecture! I was scrambling to remember his name and asked if he was “Mr. Hunter.” I couldn’t hear him well (since we were some distance apart, wearing masks, and had the river near us!) but I heard him say “Dooley,” and that Hunter had been his co-author on a book about Claudius Crozet.

At that point I introduced myself as Bob Barrett’s daughter. Mr. Dooley seemed surprised, and then said, yes, he’d known my dad quite well! They’d talked many, many times while my dad was working on–and then ultimately produced–a video documentary in the mid 1990s on the life of Claudius Crozet.

Limited copies of the DVD are available in my Etsy shop:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/462368859/the-claudius-crozet-story-dvd?ref=shop_home_feat_4&frs=1

And now that I had my bearings regarding who this man was, I also remembered that I’d given Mr. Dooley a DVD after he’d finished his talk! Here’s an article about his lecture at the Crozet Library in 2015: https://www.crozetgazette.com/2015/01/06/claudius-crozet-the-engineer/

As context, my dad was truly fascinated by the life and work of Claudius Crozet. He did slide shows and lectures for years, and then–after he retired from teaching–he produced the video documentary on VHS.

In 2014 when I found my dad’s master copy of the tape, I had a limited number of DVDs made, mainly as a way to preserve his passion and his years of research. While I haven’t marketed the DVDs extensively, I’ve offered them for sale in my Etsy shop.

With the opening of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, there’s been a lot of interest in Claudius Crozet–and in my dad’s documentary. As a result, I only have a few DVDs left, but I’ve planned to have more made. I also hope to be able to offer the video as a digital download, but I just haven’t had (or made) time to get any of this done yet.

So anyhow, after we’d said our goodbyes to the Dooleys, I realized just how incredibly “coincidental” this encounter was! I mean, really–what led Mr. Dooley to wear this particular hat that he’d received in 2015 on this particular day when we “just happened” to be in Lexington, Virginia at a section of the Maury River that we hadn’t planned to visit?! And how incredibly “coincidental”–when I’d just been thinking so much about my father–to run into someone who knew him well! Seriously what are the odds?! (And of course, I have to wonder if this was a little cosmic nudge from my dad. Perhaps I need to get on with having more copies of his documentary made!)

Still thinking about all of this, we finished the short trail loop around Jordan’s Point, then got in the car, drove back over the bridge, took a right and went to the parking area for the Chessie Nature Trail where we’d originally intended to go. 🙂

I am always so amazed by the color of the Maury River….

The trail and the river actually curve here!

This is definitely a trail we’d like to visit again! While I’m not sure we’d be up for walking the full length of 7 miles (we just walked a little over a mile this time), I’d love to follow this beautiful river a little further!

It was late in the afternoon by the time we got back to the parking area and we were both hungry. We stopped at a fast food restaurant, ate in the car, and then started the drive back up the Shenandoah Valley.

While we always enjoy our rambling trips through scenic Virginia, this outing was certainly made even more special by the “chance” encounter by the Maury River with someone who knew my father. In my mind, this seemed to confirm and reaffirm the love and the ongoing bond and connection that I have with my parents. It was a beautiful day….

Until next time,

Sharon & Wayne

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4 Responses to Chessie Nature Trail, Lexington VA – March 6, 2021

  1. Bink says:

    Nice story and pictures!! There are no coincidences.

  2. Jane says:

    Great story!!

    I just love these coincidences, which I believe are not really coincidences – but something you attracted – (what you dwell upon . . . . .)

  3. Sharon says:

    Jane, I’ve had a number of powerful “coincidences” in my life over the years. I’ll have to tell you about more of them. 🙂

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