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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Friday, April 25, 2014
Trouble breathing? Listen up!
       It isn't often that Uncle Jack makes a discovery so profound as to be life-changing so he thought he should take a minute to tell about it. Perhaps his experience could benefit others who share his affliction and are ignorant, as he was until today, of a near-miraculous cure for what ailed him.
       It is spring in Charm City; zillions of trees, bushes and flowers (see pictures) are blooming and the air is filled with flying pollen. Hitherto for Uncle Jack this has meant an almost total shutdown of his normal breathing apparatus for an extended period with serious consequences for his quality of life. Unable to breathe through his nose he would awaken several times in the night when his mouth and throat became intolerably parched and cried out for irrigation.
       No more. He has discovered a cure for plugged nose at last and it does not involve shooting himself. The remedy has been known to him (and scoffed at) for years because he was convinced it could not possibly work. This in spite of the fact that highly paid professional football players have been demonstrating its effectiveness to millions of football fans for years. He refers to "breathing strips", the little band-aid-like tapes that they apply to their noses before games and supposedly help them breathe better in the heat of battle.
       Being of superior intellect and education to those sweating behemoths in the trenches he thought of the breathing strips as just another manifestation of the superstitious behavior of athletes akin to the magic necklaces worn by many big league baseball players. He now confesses that he was wrong and he is kicking himself for not trying them himself years ago.
       They work! If any of his readers suffer from impaired breathing like he did he urges you to try this simple over-the-counter remedy. Even if they don't work for you the way they do for him you will only be out about $3.00 for a pack of 30. If they do for you what they do for him you will be in Uncle Jack's debt forever.
      


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The tulips of Sherwood Gardens are beginning to bloom as they do every year in this privately owned but public park near Uncle Jack's condo.

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When fully in bloom the trees, bushes and flowers of Sherwood Gardens make it an urban paradise. If you are not already familiar with this incredible place you might enjoy Googling it for more pics and info.

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This "witches tree" is one of Uncle Jack's favorites.

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A great place to hang out on a balmy spring day. It never seems to be crowded, especially on weekdays.

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The Gardens are right in the middle of one of Baltimore's most upscale neighborhoods. This is where the 1% live and it really is nice of them to allow the rest of us to enjoy their park free.

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A backyard in Guilford near Sherwood Gardens.

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A few prime weeks in Uncle Jack's house in South Nags Head are still available for this summer. Pet friendly, a short walk to the beach, great for senior citizens and others who abhor climbing stairs. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for more info.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:08 PM

Comments [1]



Thursday, April 17, 2014
Fresh Market opens
       Uncle Jack wrote a long philosophical/historical treatise on the opening of the Fresh Market in Nags Head yesterday. Unfortunately (or maybe happily) it disappeared with one ill-advised keystroke a couple of minutes ago. He has dried his tears but he can't bring himself to start over.
       Suffice it to say that he and Mrs. U.J. went to the grand opening of the Fresh Market yesterday and it knocked their socks off. Check out the pictures and then go see for yourself when you can.


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What you see when you walk in the front door. A feast for the eyes if Uncle Jack may be so trite.

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Try to get past the snack foods section without buying something. It won't be easy. Uncle Jack knows.

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The bakery section is nothing less than incredible. Everything from elegant patisserie to real bagels. Carrot cake, banana nutbread and croissants have been personally tested and found excellent.

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The prepared foods sections are so extensive and loaded with mouthwatering items that some will tempted to eschew home cooking entirely.

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It's not a huge store and you won't find much in the way of toilet paper and other necessities but if you have a need for antipasti this is the place to find them.

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Ditto what he said before about prepared foods.

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Sushi anyone? Here you can see exactly what you're getting.

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The candy section alone has the potential to rot the teeth of every child on the Outer Banks. Dentists rejoice.

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The snow is all gone now and Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage is ready for renters. A few choice weeks are still available. For further info Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" or contact Vaughan Realty directly.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:10 AM

Comments [7]



Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Ocracoke
       Mrs. Uncle Jack woke up yesterday morning wanting to go to Ocracoke so that is what they did. It was a perfect day to do it---warm enough to put the top down on the Mini but not too warm. Sunny but not too sunny. Breezy but not too breezy. Perfect.
       They drove directly to the ferry terminal in Hatteras Village, arriving just in time to watch the 10 a.m. ferry pull away from the dock and to hear the announcement that the next one would leave at 11. They counted the cars in line and calculated that they had a fighting chance to get on it so they killed an hour wandering around the snazzy marina next door to ferry landing. Nice boats to look at and wonder who has the money to operate these gorgeous gas-guzzlers.
       Watching the 11 a.m. ferry load was a nail biter but the methodical attendants managed to squeeze the Mini in---the last car to board as it happened. The ferry headed almost due west out of the dock and continued in that direction to what seemed to be the middle of Pamlico Sound before turning south toward the north tip of Ocracoke. The circuitous route adds about a half hour to the trip but who could complain except the folks who have to do it every day.
       The island was not crowded which is not surprising on a Monday in mid-April. There were many signs that the merchants, whose name is legion, were beginning to stir themselves in anticipation of the hordes of money-bearing visitors who will soon swarm every nook and cranny of the island. Judging from the number of rental golf carts already scooting around, Ocracoke will soon join Rome and Florence as one of the most dangerous pedestrian habitats on the planet.
       While the commercial area leading into town and the waterfront areas seem to grow ever tackier a visit to Ocracoke in the off-season is still mostly delightful. Most of the restaurants were closed on Monday but they found a terrific place called Dajio (called the Pelican in a former life if Uncle Jack remembers correctly)on the main drag where they not only found a parking place but had a very tasty lunch at a quite reasonable price in a peaceful outdoor bower surrounded by pretty vegetation. Highly recommended.
       After a bit of wandering around the island on foot and by top-down Mini they aimed for the 3 p.m. return ferry and just made it. Once again they were the last vehicle loaded---right behind a propane gas truck. The luck of the Mini held.
       Mrs. U.J. drove on the trip home so Uncle Jack was able to snap a couple of pictures of the burgeoning bridge-building activity in the vicinity of New Inlet north of Rodanthe. He shudders to think how this project will impact Hatteras-bound (and returning) traffic this summer. If it ain't one thing it's another on good old Route 12.

                     *********************************

Every once in a while Uncle Jack takes a peek into his blog archives to see what was going on five or ten years ago. What follows is an excerpt from a blog he wrote back in 2005 about the soaring prices of real estate in Dare County in those halcyon years before the big implosion. Read it and weep if you got caught up in this whirlwind.
      
       Dare County house prices----2005

       Uncle Jack was shocked but not surprised at the latest figures on house prices in Dare County as noted by Robert on the message board yesterday.
       The median cost of a single-family home is now over $302,000. The median cost of a new house has gone from $185,000 in 2000 to $425,000 in 2004. During the same period the median price of an attached dwelling has shot up to $356,000 from $138,000. The median cost of a building lot has gone from $53,000 to $170,000.
       The only comfort Uncle Jack was able to glean from these stupefying statistics is to note that he must live in a pretty swanky neighborhood. The new house under construction across the street on a lot half the size of his which backs up to a frog pond and has no more of an ocean view than he does is on the market for $629,000. A tiny beach box at the end of a street he once lived on in South Nags Head with no ocean view, no swimming pool---not even a jacuzzi---is listed at $479,000.
      
And then the bubble popped.


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The Mini was the last car to board the Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry and repeated the feat on the return trip. Sometimes it pays to be small.

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Tourists enjoying one of the greatest transportation bargains on the planet---the free ferry to Ocracoke. How much longer can it last one wonders.

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Far in the distance a dredge struggles to reopen the regular channel between Ocracoke and Hatteras Village. The roundabout channel now in use takes a full hour to traverse and a lot more diesel fuel.

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Tourist prepares to tuck into a delicious lunch in the outdoor patio of a delightful little restaurant called Dajio in the heart of downtown Ocracoke.

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After lunch a stroll down Howard Lane revealed this magnificent tree whose gnarly limbs are not yet obscured by leaves.

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Mighty preparations are underway for the construction of a 2.5 mile bridge in the vicinity of New Inlet on Route 12 between the Bonner Bridge and Rodanthe. An exercise in futility? Who knows.

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This very serious crane has been moved into position to do some heavy lifting----of what remains to be seen.

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A sunny Sunday afternoon brought the first huge crowd of the spring to the beach south of Jennette's pier.

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Luckily the beach in Uncle Jack's neighborhood was somewhat less crowded. He could hurl his bottom rig into the surf without fear of snagging an unwary tourist.

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Uncle Jack's adorable house in South Nags Head is not quite fully booked for the season. For more info about its terrific location and wonderful amenities Google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage. You will love it as much as he and Mrs. U.J. do.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:38 AM

Comments [7]



Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Shifting sands
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are back in Sonag for a couple of weeks of R & R but he has to say the first four days have not been much to write home about. Rain, wind, clouds and chilly temperatures have prevailed and only this morning, Wednesday, does it look like the sun might stick around all day for a change. As the pictures show they have gotten up to the beach a few times but he can't say it was all that pleasant.
       Beachcombing in Sonag has been somewhat disappointing since beach renourishment but they were pleased to find that tires from the ill-fated reefs off Norfolk are still drifting in. It must be 25 years or more ago that some over-optimistic eco-planners thought it would be a clever idea to create fish-attracting reefs made of discarded auto tires in the ocean off Norfolk. It seemed like a good idea at the time but after a few years the reefs started to come apart and the tires began to drift south and wash up on the Outer Banks. They're not exactly a substitute for conch shells and the like but Uncle Jack thinks they have a certain je ne sais quoi.
       A few years ago part of the entertainment in Sonag was watching hard-working men fill giant sandbags to protect threatened ocean-front houses. With beach renourishment the sandbags are no longer de rigeur but now there is a new form of sand-related activity (probably involving many unemployed sandbag-fillers) in the struggle to remove drifted sand from driveways and beach accesses. The pictures below suggest that this will be an ongoing source of employment for sandhogs (and entertainment for beachwalkers) for some time to come.
       Uncle Jack would be remiss if he did not mention that his Sonag house is not yet completely booked for the season. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for more information or contact Cola Vaughan Realty directly.
       And do have a nice day.
      


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Uncle Jack's house. Senior Citizen Friendly (he should know) with everything on one floor only seven steps up from the ground. Short walk to the beach with unhampered access.

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A whitewall!! How lucky can a person get?

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Shells aren't everything. Who knows what stories this plastic bag might tell.

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The Town of Nags Head has begun the Sysiphean task of unearthing a public access walkway in South Nags Head. This is no small undertaking.

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Close quarters make it difficult for machinery to do the job. Perhaps we need a new Civilian Conservation Corps to remove dunes instead of build them as in the '30s.

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Keeping this tunnel open will present another challenge once it's cleared out. Unanticipated consequences can be troublesome.

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Homeowners have their problems, too. Permission has been granted to dump drifted sand back on the beach and that's what these folks have done with the sand blocking their driveway.

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And this is how they did it. A whole new industry has sprung up in Nags Head built on relocating drifted sand. Fun to watch.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:15 AM

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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