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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Monday, March 31, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Monday March 31, 2008

     March can't seem to decide whether to go out like a lion or a lamb. After huffing and puffing out of the north for the past couple of days and churning up a formidable surf the wind has flipped around to the south again and much warmer air has replaced the frigid blasts of Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps April will enter like a lamb tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


     Uncle Jack was on his way to the Mini dealer in Virginia Beach before the sun was supposed to rise this morning but it was a no-show anyway and it still hasn't made an appearance as of 3 p.m.  (He is pleased to report that the Mini has been thoroughly examined by experts and pronounced ready to go for another 15,000 miles).


     Saturday night was a less than ideal time to schedule a jazz concert what with the inclement weather and the NCAA basketball tournament featuring the UNC Tarheels.  Nevertheless a good and appreciative crowd turned out to hear Chuck Redd, John Toomey and Chris Briggs produce some great jazz at the Links Grille in the Village at Nags Head.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were pleased as punch to be there in the company of their good friends, Pete and Eve Turek, who lifted the burden of regular employment from their shoulders two years ago.  Muchos gracias to Eve and Pete for a splendid evening and best wishes for another great year at Yellowhouse Gallery.


      A beach walk Monday afternoon was shortened by a rain shower which, of course, ended just as they reached home.  Tomorrow is another day.


    



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Chuck Redd and Chris Briggs at work. Chuck is one of the premier vibraphonists on the scene today and his fans are very happy that he loves the Outer Banks.

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John Toomey of Norfolk is a formidable piano player who can "trade fours" with the best.

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Chuck switched to drums to provide rhythm for his son Charlie who played a couple of bossa novas (bossas nova?) in the style of the late, great Charlie Byrd with whom Chuck played for many years.

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Charlie is a very talented young player from whom more will be heard in the future for sure.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:14 PM

Comments [2]



Saturday, March 29, 2008
Winter returns, Saturday March 29, 2008

     What a difference a day can make when you live on the Outer Banks. The balmy breezes of yesterday have metamorphosed overnight into a frigid gale out of the north.  When he saw the water dancing in the toilet bowl this morning Uncle Jack decided not to expose his ancient and delicate respiratory system to the elements.  The sunrise was obscured by clouds anyway so he was better off staying inside on every count.


     Yesterday was another story.  He and Mrs. U.J. took a leisurely stroll up to Jennette's pier in the morning and it seemed like June already.  Dozens of people were cavorting shirtless on the beach, flying kites, throwing footballs, digging sandcastles, soaking up rays and even splashing in the frigid waves.  Who needs Aruba?


     Last night he tuned in late to the NCAA basketball tournament  to see how his alma mater, the mighty University of Wisconsin, scourge of the Big Ten, was faring against tiny Davidson College of North Carolina. (UW has about 30,000 undergraduates to Davidson's 1600).  As every basketball fan knows by now David(son) trounced Goliath without breaking a sweat and has emerged as the underdog of choice in this year's tournament.


      Uncle Jack didn't see much of the game itself but the highlight film featured the exploits of Davidson's star player, a sophomore named Stephen Curry whose skill is so phenomenal as to guarantee that he will be watching when Davidson plays again on Sunday.  He can only hope and pray that Dick Vitale has either blown out his vocal chords by now or is covering some other game.



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Sunrise one day last April. It didn't look anything like this this morning.

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Mrs. U.J.'s first camellia responds to yesterday's warm sunshine.

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The Town of Nags Head's sandfence initiative is bearing fruit in many places in South Nags Head. Hopefully they will stay in place long enough to do some good.

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It was so warm at noon yesterday that even bulldozers sought shelter from the sun.

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Somebody spent a lot of time on this ephemeral construction. Probably a vacationing town planner from Egypt or somewhere.

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This one succumbed to the surf an hour or so later. Poor choice of location like so many other structures in South Nags Head.

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Speaking of dicey locations: the former Bodie Island Beach Club after Isabel.

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Now reborn as the "Ocean Palms Resort" with sandbag armament in place, at least until May 1?.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:56 AM

Comments [2]



Friday, March 28, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday March 28, 2008

      The sunrise was a bit puny this morning but Uncle Jack is not complaining because it is the harbinger of yet another magnificent day on the Outer Banks.  If and when winter returns to take another shot at us it is going to be very hard to adjust. The last few days have been heavenly.  


     The news report below is from this morning's online edition of the Wilmington Star News.  Apparently the Coastal Resources Commission, at a meeting in KDH yesterday, repelled the first of what will probably be many attempts to weaken or abolish the Commission's ruling that sandbags must be removed from North Carolina's beaches by May 1.  


Coastal regulators nix proposal to keep sandbags in place indefinitely



Published: Friday, March 28, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 at 1:34 a.m.


Kill Devil Hills | Coastal regulators Thursday overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to allow sandbags in front of commercial structures to remain indefinitely.


It was the first salvo in what is expected to be a flurry of activity over sandbags ahead of the state's May 1 deadline for the removal of most of the state's exposed bags.


Landmark Hotel Group, which owns several hotels on the Outer Banks, said the intention of its rules petition was to offer relief to property owners facing an uncertain future.


Ted Simpson, speaking for the hotel group, said that the proposed rule wouldn't have allowed sandbags to remain permanently, but only while a structure was still "viable."


He also noted that this exception for commercial structures would have recognized the greater financial role hotels and other businesses play in driving coastal economies.


But Mike Lopazanski, Coastal Management's policy manager, said it would be a mistake for the state to start treating commercial properties by a different set of rules than those that govern non-commercial properties.


After Thursday's vote, though, several members of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission expressed frustration about the limited options available to protect threatened oceanfront properties, because state law bans "permanent erosion-control structures" along the coast.


Aside from expensive beach nourishment projects, the only alternatives left are sandbags, which are subject to a time limit, or retreat.


"I'm frustrated, and I know others are also," said commission member Bob Wilson.


Already several coastal legislators, including state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, are hearing from worried property owners.


But other commission members said the CRC needs to keep in focus its big-picture perspective and position as protector of the coast for all North Carolina residents.


"We have a responsibility first and foremost, as I see it, to protect the natural resource," said Pender County's Joan Weld. "Of course you have to weigh other factors also. But I see that as our mandate."


The CRC set the sandbag removal deadline in 2007 after years of leniency in allowing sandbags to stay on the beachfront well past their intended pull-out dates.


Under state law sandbags are supposed to be limited in size and in place no more than two years in most cases, to buy time for development of more permanent solutions to protect threatened oceanfront property.


But a spate of hurricanes in the 1990s coupled with the lengthy planning and regulatory process needed for communities to get beach nourishment projects led the CRC to extend most sandbag permits.


The result, however, has been an increase in sandbags on the beach without a similar increase in permanent erosion solutions.


Frustrated by the proliferation of the fabric walls along North Carolina's beaches that can affect public access, wash away beaches and simply move erosion farther up the shoreline, coastal regulators last fall decided to get tough on the use of sandbags.


The May 1 deadline could force as many as 150 oceanfront property owners to pull out the only protection they have from the encroaching Atlantic.


In Southeastern North Carolina, substantial sandbag structures can be found near inlets in Ocean Isle Beach, Figure Eight Island and North Topsail Beach.



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6:45. Nothing much happening.

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6:55.

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7 a.m. Up, up and away into a cloudless sky.

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"Lake Whitecap", which has formed in a huge pothole here after every rain for the past several years, will soon be just a memory. The street has been prepared to receive a layer of concrete---possible today. Stay tuned.

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It's not hard to see why some motels would like to be able to keep their sandbags.

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Another view after new sandbags had been piled on top of the old. Who will come to the rescue?

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Sandbags? What sandbags?

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:32 AM

Comments [6]



Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday March 27, 2008

     Mother Nature is making it very difficult to complain about the weather these days.  Yesterday was as about nice as it can get around here in the early spring and today promises to be more of the same.  Uncle Jack's little brother returned to Minnesota yesterday from Florida only to find a foot of snow still lingering in his yard.  At least he won't have to mow it for a while longer which is nice but it doesn't seem like a good enough reason to live in Minnesota.


     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took advantage of the lovely spring weather to go for a walk on the beach yesterday afternoon.  They had hoped to stroll down to the Outer Banks pier and back but they couldn't get past a ditch dug by a crew of men filling sandbags at a house near the 18 milepost. 


     This activity struck him as being rather odd inasmuch as the Coastal Resources Commission has ordered all sandbags to be removed from the beaches of North Carolina by May 1 which is barely more than a month away.  Uncle Jack is much too old to be surprised by anything any more but he must confess that this scene did provoke an involuntary twitch of his eyebrows.   



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6:45 a.m.

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Ditto with 3x zoom

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Ten minutes later.

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Here to stay at 7:05

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Filling sandbags is hard work even on a warm. sunny day.

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Wednesday afternoon.

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Thursday morning. All finished. Time to cover them up before the CRC guys see them.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:14 AM

Comments [12]



Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday March 27, 2008

    It's a lovely day in South Nags Head. The sun is shining, the wind has died down and the temperature should reach the mid-60's by noon. Should be a great day to pile everybody into the SUV and get on down to the mall and do a little recession fighting.


     Speaking of which, Uncle Jack is going to do his taxes today so he will be eligible for his recession-fighting "economic stimulus" payment.  The latter should be almost enough to cover the former so he is not sure how it will stimulate anything but who is he to argue with the government. 



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6:50 a.m. and Uncle Jack was there for a change.

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Ditto with a slightly fuzzy 3x zoom.

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7 a.m. To watch this in slow motion accompanied by surf sounds click on the YouTube link below.

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Several huge shell beds have been uncovered in the 17.5-18 mile post area. Good place to look for beach glass.

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The pointillist design on the wall of the Ocean Palms condo development is nearing completion.

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Eat your heart out, Seurat.

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Last week's scattered stakes have been retrieved and the fence-building continues. How long will it last? Stay tuned.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVoKMAek-7A

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:22 AM

Comments [9]



Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday March 25, 2008

     Lazy Jack never left the house yesterday but he did give it the old college try this morning.  He pulled his winter parka out of the closet and trudged up to the beach at sunrise into the teeth of a 20 knot wind whistling down from the north.  Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind a thick band of clouds on the horizon and he was not about to wait five minutes for it to appear so the puny picture below is all he had to show for his efforts.  He should have stood in bed.


     Most of the Easter weekend crowd has cleared out so making a left turn onto the bypass this morning was considerably less dangerous than it has been for the past few days. He returned some books to the library this morning and took a few pictures along the way which might be of interest to condo fans as well as former patrons of Papagayo's and Quagmire's.


     One of the books he returned to the KDH library is called "Nobodies" (he forgets the author's name) and it deals with various parts of the U.S. where immigrant laborers work as virtual slaves---particularly in the citrus groves and vegetable farms of southern Florida.  If you strongly believe in the benefits of unfettered capitalism and globalisation you will probably not want to read this book.  It might shake some of your convictions. 



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6:55 a.m. and too cold for man nor beast.

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The breakfast crowd is happy to see Sam and Omie's open again. The old building sports a new stairway and handicapped ramp built last month.

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This new condo development in KDH hopes to be in move-in shape by July. Hopefully they will have the indoor toilets connected by then.

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The former Croatan Inn/Quagmire's site is sprouting new condos, too. Looks like the Chinese were not able to corner the particle board market.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:12 PM

Comments [2]



Sunday, March 23, 2008
Easter Sunday in Sonag, March 23, 2008
Happy Easter to all from Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J.


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7 a.m. Sunday.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:48 AM

Comments [6]



Saturday, March 22, 2008
Sunrise (and more) in Sonag, Saturday March 22, 2008
     It has been a glorious Saturday on the Outer Banks.  'Nuf said.  Uncle Jack will let the pictures do the talking today.


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6:55 a.m. Saturday.

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7:02. Official sunrise.

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A little later, with 3x zoom.

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Uncle Jack hasn't seen so many people on the beach in months. The high was about 70.

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Neat.

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More remnants of the town's ill-fated sandbag wall at Surfside Drive surfaced this week.

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For some reason the beach was as incredibly wide this afternoon as it was narrow last week.

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These gulls were cooling their heels on a sandbar just offshoore.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:08 PM

Comments [0]



Friday, March 21, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday March 21, 2008

       Uncle Jack's favorite windjammer up in Camden, Maine is called "Lazy Jack". After his performance for the past couple of days he thinks maybe he deserves the same sobriquet.  He woke up in plenty of time to get to the beach before sunrise this morning but try as he might he couldn't drag himself out of bed.  His apparent laziness may have something to do with daylight savings time but he doesn't know how much longer he is entitled to hide behind that lame excuse.


     As the first picture suggests he finally did get to the beach this morning but not until the sun had cleared the horizon and was well on its way.  The surf has subsided somewhat but evidence abounds of the pounding the dunes have taken in the past few days.


     Astronomical spring officially arrived yesterday but there are other signs that the sleeping giant of tourism is awakening from his winter snooze.  Sam and Omie's is open again along with Cahoon's grocery at Whalebone Junction and traffic on Old Oregon Inlet Road has increased ten-fold with the arrival of the Easter crowd.  As Uncle Jack knows from his many years in retail, though,  the Easter rush is illusory and is always followed by the long, slow run-up to Memorial Day weekend.  


     But for the moment the bypass swarms with cars, the outlet mall is crawling with shoppers and you could almost delude yourself into thinking that all is right with the world, i.e. if you're not in the real estate business.


     Speaking of which Uncle Jack is happy to report that it looks like his house is now completely rented for the summer. However he will leave the advertisement in place until everything is signed, sealed and delivered.  Thanks to all who inquired and who helped spread the word.  



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7:15 a.m. The beginning of a very pretty day. A bit chilly but perfect for beachwalking.

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The first displaced stairway of spring. Not exactly a robin but what the heck.

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Mother Nature scattered the pieces of this sand fence before they could be assembled.

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The first sandcastle of spring?

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And the first Outer Banks pier fishermen of the spring.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:17 PM

Comments [2]



Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Home again, Wednesday March 19, 2008

     Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he has returned safely from his sojourn in Lotus Land.  Miracle of miracles, Southwest Airlines deposited both him and his baggage in Norfolk last night (simultaneously!) twenty minutes early after a totally uneventful flight.  Mrs. U.J. was there to meet him and they were back in Nags Head by 1:30 a.m.


     Needless to say he did not wake up in time to photograph the sunrise but he and Mrs. U.J. did go for a walk up to Jennette's pier and back this morning and it was good to feel sand under his feet for a change instead of concrete. If Mother Nature cooperates he will have some sunrise pictures to upload tomorrow morning.


 



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The wind was blowing directly off shore this morning and blowing the tops off the incoming rollers. Always a lovely sight.

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They picked a good time to walk---at low tide. At high tide later today there won't be much beach to walk on because the surf is way up.

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The sandbags around the base of the Comfort Inn South are temporarily concealed under a faux dune with sea oats on top. Mother Nature, unfortunately, has not been paying attention to the sign.

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Uncle Jack was somewhat surprised to see this active oil well in the heart of LaBrea. Shades of the Beverley Hillbillies.

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Pronounced "Yookey", not "Yuckee".

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Another stack of over and underpasses waiting for the next earthquake.

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Uncle Jack's screened porch is still available for rental (along with the rest of the house) this summer. (September has been taken). For more information click on the banner ad at the top of this weblog.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:04 PM

Comments [6]



Sunday, March 16, 2008
Sunday in L.A. March 16, 2008

    It may seem like all Uncle Jack does in L.A. is eat but this is not true.  Today he also went for a walk and took some pictures (see below) of the mountains which were visible for the first time since he arrived last Tuesday.  Awesome.


    His San Diego granddaughters, Cornelia and Mary Grace, drove up for a visit so they all repaired to a dim sum restaurant for lunch.  He has no idea what he ate but it was all delicious. 


    



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He thinks these may be the San Gabriel mountains but he could be wrong. Viewed from the heights of Diamond Bar, the eastern suburb in which his only begotten son, Eric, lives.

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Looking north. Those white things in the valley are gigantic warehouses.

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Mary Grace and Cornelia (Emily's daughters) scarfing dim sum at the Hong Kong restaurant.

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A typical street in Diamond Bar which is set amongst a bunch of rolling hills. The developers did a nice job and the residents are fanatic gardeners from the looks of it. (Or their gardeners are anyway).

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These folks are really into statuary.

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It's spring all the time in SoCal.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:23 PM

Comments [6]



Saturday, March 15, 2008
Saturday in L.A., March 15, 2008

     Saturday is shopping day in L.A. as it is most places in the U.S.  As a result Uncle Jack got to visit some stores he is unlikely ever to find on the Outer Banks no matter how overdeveloped it gets.  His daughter-in-law, Judy, and her mother are both natives of Taiwan and have retained elements of Chinese culture, especially in the food department, for which he is grateful.


     Before hitting the grocery stores they had lunch at a Chinese "firepot" restaurant in which a cooking stove sits in the middle of the table on which the diners cook their own meals with ingredients provided by the restaurant.  A soup pot full of broth sits atop the stove into which miscellaneous shreds of meat and vegetables are simmered, producing in a delicious soup as the meal progresses.  This was a pleasant  way to spend a couple of hours and Uncle Jack can tell you he was definitely not hungry five minutes after he left the table, either.


    


 



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The firepot in action, tended by Kelly and Alexander, Uncle Jack's rapidly growing L.A. grandchildren.

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Judy and Mrs. Yao demonstrate the fine art of eating (including soup)with chopsticks.

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The kids are no slouches either. They let Uncle Jack use a spoon.

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This store has something in common with Wal-Mart. Everything is made in China.

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Fish maw, anyone? Shark fin? Bird's nest? They have it all.

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This supermarket across the street is a favorite with people who are trying to lose weight.

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If you are not into shark fins there's always Jack-in-the-Box, the ubiquitous L.A. burger outlet. (They sponsor the Laker games).

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Saturday afternoon on the freeway. Uncle Jack will never cast aspersions on the bypass again.

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Anybody old enough to remember the Jack Benny radio show? What were the other two towns in this routine?

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Uncle Jack is not sure what these trees are but they are all over the place.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:59 PM

Comments [5]



Friday, March 14, 2008
California II--Friday March 14, 2008

     Uncle Jack has now survived three entire days in Southern California and he now thinks he has a good chance of making it out of here alive.  If Southwest Airlines is still in business by next Tuesday, that is. They have been cancelling flights left and right because some of their older planes are suspect and they can't get them all inspected fast enough.  Maybe he will get lucky.


     The Los Angeles area is totally insane.  It has been said that southern California offers us a glimpse of what the whole world will look like some day.  If that is true, God help us.



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Freeways on top of freeways.

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Heading for $4.00 a gallon soon. God help the people out here who routinely drive 50-100 miles every day.

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Even in the heart of this peaceful park in Diamond Bar the roar of traffic never ceases. (Yes, the park is open to Democrats, too).

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Uncle Jack's new favorite restaurant in the whole world. No chop suey or chow mein served here.

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This sign is in front of a Korean shopping center. "Diversity" is a very old concept in Southern California.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:20 PM

Comments [3]



Thursday, March 13, 2008
Los Angeles, Wednesday March 12, 2008

     Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he reached Los Angeles last night without a hitch.  Somehow his baggage arrived before he did which caused some confusion but at this point he has to confess he is quite impressed with Southwest Airlines.  They will have a chance to blow it next Tuesday when he returns home.


      Nothing seems to have change since his last visit several years ago. This is still the land of cars, freeways and smog and it will no doubt continue to be even when gas goes to $10 a gallon which could be next month.



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Uncle Jack had a two-hour layover in Las Vegas but he is pleased to report that he successfully resisted the blandishments of these armless bandits.

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A typical scene anywhere in L.A. The beautiful San Gabriel mountains can be dimly seen through the smog with the naked (burning) eye but the camera doesn't reveal them.

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This sumptuous home on a hill belongs to an entertainer named Snoop Doggy (sp). This pic was taken in the morning before the wind came up and blew the smog away.

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This was taken later. The smog comes on little cat feet.....

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This is a doubledecker golf-driving range. Only in California.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:31 AM

Comments [6]



Tuesday, March 11, 2008
California here I come, Tuesday March 11, 2008

     Uncle Jack was off to the Norfolk airport before the sun came up this morning.  He is going to Los Angeles to visit his only begotten son Eric and his family for a week.  He will blog from there as time and circumstances permit.  Obligatory pictures of the grandchildren will be forthcoming.


     Have a nice day for him.


posted by Uncle Jack at 6:18 AM

Comments [0]



Monday, March 10, 2008
Bodie Island delights, Monday March 10, 2008

     Either Uncle Jack's circadian rhythms have been discombobulated by daylight saving time or he is just getting lazier as he grows older but either way he overslept and missed the sunrise this morning. There's not a cloud in the sky so it was probably fairly unexciting anyway but if that sounds like a rationalization for his slothful behavior it probably is.


    He and Mrs. U.J. embarked on a beachwalk yesterday morning which lasted all of two minutes before they decided the chill northeast wind was too much.  They moved to Plan B which was to explore the sheltered path that winds through the marsh in back of Bodie Island lighthouse.  This was a new adventure for both of them and it turned out to be delightful. The beauty of the Outer Banks is not limited to its beaches as the pictures below will confirm.


      To find this oasis of tranquility go to Bodie Island Lighthouse and watch for the gated road on the right just before you reach the first parking lot.  The larger gate may be locked to keep out cars but there is a smaller gate for pedestrians next to it.  After 50 yards or so you come to a bridge over a creek where the walking path begins on the left and follows the course of the creek for a mile or so until it ends at the highway. It's not a loop so you will have to retrace your steps coming back out but you won't mind.


Note:  Click on the link below the pictures for information about how to rent Uncle Jack's house this summer while he and Mrs. U.J. are in Maine.


 



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Looing toward the sound from the bridge. The hiking path follows this creek in opposite direction, upstream.

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Following the auto road brings you to a small dock and these buildings which can only be reached by boat. Perhaps knowledgeable readers could tell Uncle Jack how they came to be there and who owns them.

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Ditto for this one which appears to be abandoned.

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Looking upstream from the bridge past the spillway. The walking path starts here and goes east along the south side of the creek.

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Oregon Inlet seems far, far away.

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Looking back at the lighthouse from somewhere on the hiking trail.

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Is there an erstwhile Natty Bumppo out there who could identify these tracks?

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Perhaps they were left by this otter who entertained us for a while.

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This blue heron probably thought we couldn't see him because he refused to budge in spite of serious provocation by Mrs. U.J. who flapped her arms vigorously to no avail.

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The flora in the marsh are as interesting as the fauna---except, perhaps, for fanatic birdwatchers.

link: http://www.outer-banks-vacation-rentals.com/listing_detail.aspx?SID=kancfl55n3n1jrvnivvce345&RID=330

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:30 AM

Comments [653]



Sunday, March 9, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday March 9, 2008

     Uncle Jack narrowly missed seeing actual sunrise this morning due to a combination of factors including the Duke-UNC game and the advent of Daylight Savings Time.  The fact that he was only a minute late is fairly amazing under the circumstances.


    It was a fairly exciting game as all who watched it can attest---more like Studio Wrestling than basketball at times but enjoyable to watch as Duke made one of their patented comebacks only to lose in the end.  Using the ingenuity that only bonafide high school graduates can muster, Uncle Jack was able to watch and hear the entire game without once subjecting himself to the obnoxious verbal effusions of you-know-who (he cannot bear to pronounce his name any more).  He muted the sound on the TV and listened to the play-by-play on the radio instead. Once again his bosom swells with pride at his cleverness.


     The clouds of yesterday (and the day before and the day before that) are gone this morning but it's much colder and the wind is out of the north.  If the wind dies down he may return to the beach this afternoon. If not there is always the Sunday Times and as an added diversion the Suns-Spurs game at 3:30.  Surely the best of all possible worlds for a roundball junky.



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Better late than never. 7:29 this morning.

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The beach was ideal for walking yesterday except for the flying sand that made it impossible.

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Looking south toward the O.B. pier this morning. There's a 32 gallon Ace Hardware garbage can free for the taking on the beach in front of Harvest Street where Uncle Jack was standing when he took this picture.

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The entire beach in Sonag seems to have lost about a foot of sand to scouring in the past few days. That's a lot of sand.

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This scene on Harvest Court could be mistaken for an installation in a fancy, avant garde art gallery in NYC. Who needs Christo?

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:59 AM

Comments [5]



Saturday, March 8, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday March 8, 2008

     Alas, no new sunrise pictures this morning for the reason that there was no sunrise to be seen.  The rain of yesterday has continued over night and the sky is completely overcast.  A good day for indoor activities like taking naps and watching the Duke-UNC game on ESPN. 


     Speaking of which Uncle Jack is reminded of a piece he wrote a long time ago on the evils of big-time college basketball which he has today exhumed from the archives, to wit:


                    March Madness


     There is something bad about March besides the weather, to wit: the NCAA basketball tournament which never fails to turn Uncle Jack into a quivering pudding of guilt as he wastes hour after hour watching sweaty young men in short pants engage in ferocious dunk-to-dunk combat in an effort to establish the supremacy of their respective "institutions of higher learning" as colleges and universities are still laughingly referred to in some circles.


Each year the spectacle gets a little harder for Uncle Jack to enjoy even though he knows he is watching some of the finest amateur athletes that money can buy---many of whom will soon be earning more money in one week than he has amassed in his virtuous lifetime of incessant toil. (If they are not already getting it under the table, stuffed into their capacious Nikes by greedy agents and overzealous alumni).


If Uncle Jack sounds jealous it is for good reason because he knows full well that had he been born 40 years later he, too, might have a shoe contract to fall back on in his old age. It is an incontrovertible fact (any eyewitness who might have controverted it is already dead) that at one time Uncle Jack owned the deadliest two-hand setshot ever seen in northern Wisconsin. He stood at the threshhold of fame and fortune but only briefly because unbeknownst to him in a gym in faraway Indiana a young man named Oscar Robertson had invented the one-hand jumper and rendered Uncle Jack obsolete overnight.


But that was long ago and Uncle Jack has long since adjusted to the fact that he will never amount to anything. His problem with the NCAA tournament, that which causes him to writhe in his Barcalounger, his hair shirt soaked with the sweat of guilt, is his knowledge that the whole thing has become such an embarrassing travesty in the name of higher education.


Colleges and universities, including North Carolina‘s finest, have been sucked into the sordid business of recruiting and maintaining semi-professional teams of so-called "student athletes", many of whom never see a diploma much less earn one. (A few probably couldn't read it if they did get one).


The reason for all this chicanery, of course, is money--vast amounts of money derived primarily from lucrative TV contracts. College basketball sells products---with a vengeance as any frazzled survivor of "March Madness" can tell you.


For this reason even prestigious universities like Duke and Stanford are willing to prostitute themselves to hucksters and world-class windbags like Dick Vitale, who has single-mouthedly done more to infuriate intelligent basketball fans than anyone with the possible exception of Dennis Rodman---who can at least rebound. Uncle Jack is not kidding when he says that if anything ever goes wrong with his "mute" switch he will never watch another basketball game on ESPN.


Anyway March and the NCAA tournament will soon be over and  Uncle Jack can concentrate on doing his taxes. This is something that always makes him angry but at least he won't feel guilty and he doesn't have to listen to Dick Vitale while he does it.


P.S.  For updated information about how to rent Uncle Jack's house this summer please click on the link below the pictures.  (And tell your friends. Thanks.)





 


 


 


 


 


 


 



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Just in case you missed this one last November here it is again.

link: http://www.outer-banks-vacation-rentals.com/listing_detail.aspx?SID=kancfl55n3n1jrvnivvce345&RID=330

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:41 AM

Comments [4]



Friday, March 7, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday March 7, 2008

     Uncle Jack blew it this morning.  He got up at 5:30 in plenty of time to have a cup of tea before he walked up to the beach.  Unfortunately he got so engrossed in reading about the world's latest atrocities in the New York Times (a terrible way to start the day for sure) he forgot about the sunrise.  When he looked out the window at 6:05 the eastern sky was a mass of pulsating color so he grabbed his camera and headed for the beach toot sweet.  By the time he got there a few minutes later it was as though somebody had turned out the lights.  He could almost hear Mother Nature saying "Gotcha!".  He hung around for 15 minutes hoping that the sun would break through and provide some excitement but the longer he waited the cloudier it got and he never did see the sun.


     The surf is something else.  Large waves have been pounding the shore for a couple of days now and Uncle Jack is looking forward to his next walk on the beach.  Vast quantities of sand have been scoured away from the foreshore and it looks like a lot of stuff that has been buried for a long time might be revealed when the ocean calms down.  He remembers a day like this about 25 years ago when four shipwrecks were revealed at one time just north of Jennette's pier.  One of them actually washed out into the surf and drifted south, taking out a large section of the pier as it went.  It came ashore later in South Nags Head where town employees loaded it on a flatbed truck and removed it to the town hall property where it remains on public view to this day.


     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have moved to Plan B with regard to renting their house this summer.  They had hoped to find renters who could stay for three or even six months but this has turned out to be infeasible.  They are now offering it on a monthly basis which should enlarge the pool of prospective renters.  Read all about it by clicking on the link to their advertisement in the Obxconnection by clicking on the link below.  It's a great deal for the right folks.



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6:15 a.m. You should have been here five minutes ago.

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Looking south toward the O.B. pier. Dig the crazy surf.

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The sun is out there somewhere but it's playing peek-a-boo this morning.

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This is as good as it got. The clouds won.

link: http://www.outer-banks-vacation-rentals.com/listing_detail.aspx?SID=kancfl55n3n1jrvnivvce345&RID=330

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:42 AM

Comments [3]



Thursday, March 6, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday March 6, 2008

     As the pictures suggest, this morning's sunrise was eminently worth getting up for.  Actually neither Uncle Jack nor anybody else saw the sun itself which remained hidden behind thick clouds until well after official sunrise.  It was the clouds themselves that put on the show this morning in a dazzling display of pink and red and orange across the entire eastern sky.  Uncle Jack made a short video which falls short of the real thing but might be worth a couple of minutes of your time.  Wind noise blots out the sound of the raging surf most of the time so you might want to turn the sound down.  Click on the YouTube link below the pictures to see and hear it.


      There was no beach to walk on in South Nags Head this morning at high tide.  The ocean is riled by a strong wind from the east and it's cold up there so Uncle Jack beat a quick retreat when the sky colors began to fade. Looks like the bulldozer operators will get a day off.


     It was warm, sunny and windless yesterday afternoon when he and Mrs. U.J. walked from James Street up to the Outer Banks pier and back---one of those springlike days that can make Outer Bankers forget that it's still winter.


     He is pleased to report that his free-throw shooting performance (18 out of 20) on Tuesday was no fluke.  He did it again yesterday.  Kobe who?


      



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6:15 a.m. Looking southeast.

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Same time, looking south.

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And east.

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And north. The dunes, such as they are, are taking a pounding this morning.

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Yesterday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Almost too perfect to be true.

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The new condos just south of the Tanger mall are taking shape. Looks like it's just about time for the roofs to go on if they can find enough particle board to do the job.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-myJA5J-To

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:06 AM

Comments [5]



Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Wednesday March 5, 2008

     Strange morning weatherwise.  When Uncle Jack looked out the window at 6 a.m. the sky to the south and east was clear except for a large cloud on the horizon.  By the time he got dressed to walk up to the beach the heavens had been engulfed by swirling, ominous black clouds and rain was falling.  While all this was going on the online weather forecaster was insisting that the sky would be clear at this hour and would remain so all day.  In any case there won't be any sunrise pics this morning because the time has come and gone sunlessly.


     He had hoped to enjoy a stroll on the beach yesterday afternoon but that didn't happen either.  Mother Nature was employing a 25 knot wind out of the southwest to blow a lot of recently bulldozed sand back onto the beach and into the faces of erstwhile strollers.


    More of the same is promised for today which will probably result in another trip to the Y this morning with his beloved basketball.  He took it to Destin with him hoping to engage his little brother in a titanic struggle for family bragging rights in the free-throw shooting department but they were never able to find a suitable venue. (Every outdoor basketball hoop in the Florida panhandle appears to have been molested by 800 pound gorillas who get their jollies by hanging on the rims). Lucky for his brother because when Uncle Jack stepped to the line yesterday morning after an absence of two weeks he promptly made 18 out of his first 20 attempts. His bosom swells with pride.


     In the time it has taken for him to write these words the clouds have gone to sea and the sun has followed the weatherman's instructions at last.  There is hope for a walk on the beach after all. Pictures at 11, maybe.



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Here come the clouds.

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There was a window of opportunity for the sun but it closed too quickly.

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Uncle Jack's house is available for rental in August, September and October. For more info please scroll down to the blog entry for February 22.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:10 AM

Comments [2]



Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday March 4, 2008

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are very happy to be home again and pleasantly surprised to find that it is almost as warm on the Outer Banks as it was in Florida. He made his trek to the beach at dawn wearing a light jacket instead of the heavy winter coat he needed a week ago. 


    Looks like a great day for a stroll on the beach.  Pictures at 11.



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6:15 a.m.

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Ditto. Outer Banks pier in the distance.

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6:29 a.m. Official sunrise. Getting earlier every day.

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Sysiphi at rest.

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All ready for the next nor'easter.

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The Tyson chicken factory operation near Roper keeps growing and growing. There must be a hundred or more of these buildings along hiway 64 now. Phew.

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Billboards are popping up so fast along the new highway that they can't sell them fast enough.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:50 AM

Comments [4]



Sunday, March 2, 2008
St. Augustine, Fla. Sunday March 2, 2008

     Mrs. U.J. wanted to visit St. Augustine, Florida on our way home from Destin because her mother worked in the School for the Deaf there back during the Great Depression.  That didn't seem like a very compelling reason to go a hundred miles out of the way but he has to admit he is glad they did.                                                              


Besides being the oldest city in the U.S. it has a lot more going for it like a beautiful waterfront, some spectacular buildings and several remarkable museums.  The oil magnate and railroad builder Henry Flagler built three incredibly ornate hotels in St. Augustine to lure rich people to come south in the winter and they really did the job.  Only one is still a hotel but the others live on as Flagler College and as the Lightner Museum.


     Both Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were quite bowled over by St. Augustine and look forward to spending more time there next winter. Maybe they will find the Fountain of Youth next time. It's supposed to be around here somewhere.


 



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St. George street in St. Augustine is a supremely tacky melange of charming old buildings and kitschy shops somewhat reminiscent of Duval street in Key West but narrower.

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Townspeople were in the midst of re-enacting an 18th century pirate raid on St. A. when we arrived.

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A 300+ year old Spanish fort, the Castillo, still guards the harbor.

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The National Park Service now fends off potential terrorists with the help of these volunteers who put on musket and cannon-shooting demonstrations a couple of times a day.

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This promenade runs along the waterfront for miles. A delightful amenity on a day like Sunday when the temperature was in the 70's and a light breeze blew in off the ocean.

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Flagler College, formerly the Ponce de Leon hotel, was built in the late 1880's. It has 2300 very lucky students.

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The inner courtyard of Flagler College. Eat your heart out Harvard.

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Eddie and Richard have competition in St. Augustine.

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Another former Flagler hotel, now partly the City Hall and partly a museum.

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Our pilgrimage ended here. This is a magnificent public facility---almost as impressive as the new Dare County administration building.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:19 PM

Comments [4]




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Uncle Jack lived in Nags Head for 35 years before he moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. He still has a house in South Nags Head which he and Mrs. U.J. visit every chance they get.
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