Blazes New Path to the Sea
How to drive from Raleigh to Oriental in just 14 hours
Story by Ben Casey
June 19, 2003
This experience really was easy to predict.
Barbara Goodmon once accompanied Judy Le Grand to Williamsburg.
From Raleigh, they usually could make the trip in under three
hours. But with Judy’s help in trying to find shortcuts,
they were able to cover the distance in just six hours.
day between June 12 and 14, started rather routinely for the Le
Grands. Judy and Gordon departed Raleigh about 8:30 AM driving
to Asheville for a Meredith College Board Retreat (Judy serves
on the board for Meredith College) at the esteemed Grove Park
Judy and Gordon explain their 14 hour trip to an enthusiastic
Bean porch audience
In retrospect, it now seems puzzling to Judy that she had not
yet received any pre-board meeting packet of information about
an agenda for the mountain retreat.
Arriving at the resort inn’s registration desk, the Le Grands
were startled to find they had no reservation. The desk clerk
was dispatched to the administrative office to find out why. He
quickly returned with the news that the Meredith College Board
Retreat was still two weeks away.
“I owe Gordon a big one,” Judy said. “He didn’t
get mad, he didn’t yell and scream. He simply said, ‘Well,
let’s go to Oriental.’”
Looking back, Gordon acknowledged, “Hey, it was a bonus
for me. It meant another weekend in Oriental.”
The happy, but chagrined, couple departed Asheville within 15
minutes of their arrival, stopping first for lunch at Old Fort,
then back on Interstate 40 East to Raleigh, where a 20 minute
stop about 5:30 PM afforded them the opportunity to grab a few
things to complement a weekend in Pamlico County, which is, as
most who know North Carolina geography, all the way at the other
end of the state from Asheville.
A short stop for a barbecue dinner at Wilbur’s in Goldsboro
was the final break in this odyssey. Fourteen hours after their
original departure from Raleigh, they arrived in Oriental shortly
after 10:00 PM.
And the good news. The 14 hour trek would provide them the opportunity
to attend the one-of-a-kind, bicycle parade, pig-pickin’
wedding orchestrated by “Too Tall” Tim Rogers and
his bride Janet Alexander.
More interesting statistics emerged as the Le Grands chatted with
the bridal couple on the porch of The Bean early Saturday morning.
One couple had driven from Detroit to attend the nuptials. It
took them only 12 hours for that journey.
Then there were the sisters who flew in from Sacramento, California.
It took a mere 8 hours for that trip.
Judy and Gordon accepting the award for longest trip to
the wedding. L to R, Judy LeGrand, Groom Tim Rogers, Gordon
LeGrand, Bride Janet Alexander.
When queried about return plans to Raleigh, it was learned that
a side trip was in store to Wilson so Judy could visit with
her father, Dr. Charles “Cub” Cubberly, for Father’s
Day. The couple would offer no conjecture on how long the return
trip to Raleigh would ultimately take in comparison to the 14
hour voyage this way.
There is a special romantic twist to this story. It was 35 years
ago that Judy and Gordon met in Oriental during what was at
that time a forerunner to the Croaker Festival. Two years later,
they were married and have been retuning to the village of leisurely
living ever since. They now have a part-time residence here
as well as a sailboat.
Oriental surely pulls at the heart’s strings.
How did they pass the seemingly long hours on the road? “Oh,
it was fun,” Judy remarked. “I talked all the way
up to Asheville and Gordon talked all the way back.”
What dominated the conversation? “All the way back, Gordon
talked a lot about Towndock.net. He logs on to that every day,”
“Oh yeah,” Gordon chimed in. I almost use the HarborCam
shot as my screensaver at work. I always know when Paul Mascaro
is at The Bean. I look to see if I can spot his Volkswagen parked
by the town dock. I also like to keep up with Oriental’s
weather while I’m in Raleigh.”
Jim Goodmon, listening to this tale unravel on The Bean porch,
observed, “This was almost like a ‘March to the
Goodmon’s comment brought on another novel twist to the
story. It seems that Gordon’s great grandfather was ‘Fighting
Joe Wheeler,’ a cavalry officer serving under the Confederate
General Johnston who was the last to surrender forces to Sherman
in Durham, North Carolina after Appomattox. It was this force
that had tried desperately to halt and slow down Sherman’s
‘March to the Sea.’
Perhaps Gordon Le Grand is of tough fighting stock also. Nothing
would slow down his ‘March to the River’ at Oriental.
As for Judy’s attempt to attend a board retreat prior
to its happening … surely that board will honor her with
a citation from Meredith College for having that institution,
as the song sings, … “Always on my mind …