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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Friday, May 31, 2013
Iceplant Island revisited
       Uncle Jack has always enjoyed visiting Roanoke Island Festival Park which is the home of the Outer Banks History Center, one of his favorite places on the entire Outer Banks, as well as the replica ship Elizabeth II, a delightful nature walk and a whole bunch of other attractions for both locals and tourists. It is certainly one of the jewels in the crown of Roanoke Island tourism.
       He was saddened to hear that the legislature in Raleigh has decided to cut off funding (about a million dollars a year) for the park beginning in 2015 which could cause it to close unless other funding sources can be found. This would be very sad if you ask him because it's a wonderful amenity into which a lot of tax money has already been invested and which would be sorely missed.
       Uncle Jack is one of those spendthrift liberals who thinks that one of the essential jobs of government is to create and maintain places like National Parks (and Roanoke Island Festival Parks) that celebrate our heritage and can be enjoyed and learned from by all the people. Remembering that local government managed to scrape together a cool $36 million to "save" the beaches (and oceanfront palaces) of Nags Head it does not seem impossible that a far smaller sum could be found somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the county treasury to "save" Roanoke Island Festival Park.
       Uncle Jack was offering the commissioners free advice about Roanoke Island Festival Park even before they had named it, to wit: this column from the old Outer Banks Current that he exhumed from the archives today:

             
                            From the Mailbag

Dear Uncle Jack,
I read in the paper where they are trying to think up a new name for Ice Plant Island which would make it sound classier for the tourists. Some people want to call it New World Park and other people want to call it Roanoke Festival Park and other people want to name it after Wanchese or Manteo or some of the
other natives who lived around here in the old days before the first outlet mall.
I know you have probably thought about this a lot yourself, Uncle Jack, so I would like to know what you think they should call it.
Common Mann
Mann's Harbor

Dear Common,
The guiding principle of Uncle Jack's life so far has been "do whatever is easiest" and this is the main reason why he thinks they should just leave it Ice Plant Island. Everybody who lives around here knows where Ice Plant Island is so if they are in a good mood they can tell the tourists how to get there.
If they change the name to something fancy like Roanoke Festival Park none of the locals are going to know what the tourists are talking about when they ask for directions and they could all end up over at the landfill or somewhere.
Also Ice Plant Island is something just about everybody can pronounce correctly even if they are from Ahia or New Jersey. The tourists have enough trouble already with names like Wanchese and Manteo and Chicamacomico and Bodie Island without creating another problem for them. Uncle Jack thinks the tourists should be able to enjoy their vacations without having to worry about how to pronounce something every time they turn around.
Also Uncle Jack has never heard of any other place in the world that has an Ice Plant Island and as far as he is concerned that should be enough reason not to change it. "Ireland" probably sounded like a pretty dumb name for an island at one time but the Celtic people stuck to it and now many people from all over
the world like to go there on their vacations. If you ask Uncle Jack there is a lesson there for all of us.
Conservatively,
Uncle Jack

P.S. Uncle Jack would be a fool if he didn't mention that this piece is one of the 100 included (along with dozens of interesting pictures)in his Kindle book called "Uncle Jack's Outer Banks". Google it for information about how to order from Amazon.


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The nature walk at Roanoke Island Festival Park is a delightful place to be when it's too windy to walk on the beach.

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Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for info about how to rent this excellently furnished, senior friendly, 3 bedroom house just a short walk from the beach in South Nags Head.

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The cover of Uncle Jack's Kindle book. Google it to see more.

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Mrs. U.J. picked several pounds of strawberries at the Point Harbor U Pickem Wednesday. They are the best ever.

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5:47 a.m. Friday May 31. Sunrise in Sonag. Mrs. U.J. made him do it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:21 AM

Comments [130]



Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Remembering a fire
       Uncle Jack read in the Voice this morning that the Dunes restaurant in Nags Head caught fire in the early hours of Monday morning and but for an incredible stroke of luck might have burned to the ground. An alert trash truck driver saw the initial blaze and phoned the fire department at 3 a.m. Normally he would not have been anywhere near the restaurant at that hour but the Memorial Day schedule put him there three hours before the usual time. The firefighters got there quickly and confined the fire to the food prep area where it had started.
       This happy story (well, sort of happy anyway) reminded Uncle Jack of a very similar event about 30 years ago when his almost brand new Yellowhouse Annex Framing and Poster Shop caught fire in the middle of the night before Christmas Eve. He remembers being awakened at 1 a.m. by a phone call by somebody at the then Nags Head Volunteer Fire Department rather reluctantly informing him that his shop was on fire. By the time he raced the 5 miles from his house on the sound to the scene of the disaster the firemen had smashed in the front door and extinguished the flames before the whole building could be engulfed.
       Without an incredible stroke of good luck Uncle Jack's fire might have put him out of business almost before he got started. It seems his neighbor, the late Dr. Ed North, who lived on the oceanfront across from Yellowhouse Gallery had to make a pit stop at 1 a.m. His bathroom window was open and he said he could distinctly hear a popping noise somewhere nearby. He looked out the window and saw flames inside the framing shop; the popping noise was from asbestos shingles exploding from the heat.
       The fierce flames, fed by the many combustibles use in framing, completely gutted the interior destroying thousands of dollars worth of posters, picture frame molding, equipment, and supplies but stopping short of consuming the shell of the building thanks to the firemen's quick work. This was important because if damage had exceeded 50% of the value of the building he would have had to tear it down and would not be allowed to replace the "grandfathered" structure that had originally been a beach cabana in front of the Old Nagsheader Hotel across the street.
       While the fire was a crushing blow at the time it had a happy ending. Parsimonious old Uncle Jack was forced to modernize the decrepit old building with proper lighting, air conditioning and all the other modern accouterments that helped Yellowhouse Annex become a thriving business which continues to this day in the able hands of Pete and Eve Turek.
       Sweet are the uses of adversity.
      
             
      


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Sunny skies and warm enough temperatures greeted Memorial Day visitors to South Nags Head. This lifeguard was hardly overworked, though.

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Here they are---about a hundred yards away.

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Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for info about how to reserve this charming 3BR, senior friendly house in Sonag. Still a couple of choice weeks available this summer and fall.

posted by Uncle Jack at 2:17 PM

Comments [1]



Saturday, May 25, 2013
I-95 or Not I-95?
       That is the question.
       Uncle Jack has asked it many times since he moved to Baltimore from Nags Head four years ago. He and Mrs. U.J. make the trip back and forth several times every year and they have learned that travel on I-95 is very much a crapshoot. When all goes well it is the fastest way (along with I-295 and I-64)to go, but as every I-95 veteran knows disaster can strike at any time. Accidents are frequent and can slow traffic to a crawl or stop it completely, sometimes for hours.
       On the whole Uncle Jack considers himself lucky at I-95 Roulette. His "bad trips" have been so few that he has made I-95 his default route to and from Sonag ever since moving to Charm City---until this week. Alarmed by persistent warnings from friends, relatives and assorted news media about recent disasters in the D.C. vicinity he opted for the longer but more tranquil and predictable Route 13 down the Eastern Shore. It took an hour longer than a perfect transit of I-95 would have but he found the additional time to be an acceptable trade-off for the relatively stress-free saunter down the picturesque Eastern Shore.
       He enjoyed ticking off some of the delightful place names that were so familiar from trips back in the 50's when he was stationed in Norfolk and 13 was his default route to points north: Chincoteague, Assateague, Accomac, Wachapreague, and the slightly scatological Onancock. Somehow he managed to miss Stuckey's, home of the toxic pecan log, in spite of the flurry of signboards announcing its approach beginning 50 miles out.
Crossing the 17-mile bridge-tunnel at Cape Charles, whose construction he watched during his navy days, still gives him a thrill.
       So for the foreseeable future the answer to the question posed at the top will definitely be "not-95" for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J.
      

      
      


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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. scored a couple of gift tickets to last week's Preakness race at Pimlico. Lucky for them they didn't bet on Orb, the local favorite.

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Sonag beach Thursday 5/22. Wide and windy with fine spray of mixed sand and raindrops.

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Sonag beach 5/23 a.m.--warm & sunny. By 3 p.m. windy, cold and rainy. Food Lion packed.

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Blowing sand has covered 3/4 of this walkway at Whitecap street---a side effect of beach renourishment.

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Still a few choice weeks available. Google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage for information about how to rent this senior friendly house in South Nags Head Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage".

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:26 AM

Comments [3]



Thursday, May 9, 2013
A walk in the 'hood
                                                                                          
      
       Uncle Jack is going to try to get back in the good graces of the Blogging Gods by not waiting five months before he posts another entry like he did last time. He doesn't have anything new to say about the Outer Banks right now because he will be stuck in Baltimore for a couple more weeks but he is not complaining. Charm City never looks better than it does in the spring and this particular season is no exception.
       He and Mrs. U.J. moved a couple of months ago to a new condo not far from their old one and they have started exploring a whole new neighborhood out in back of their new digs. They went for a walk yesterday and the pictures he took will give you some idea of their classy surroundings. (See below}

       As a public service to Outer Bankers who might be expecting company now that the weather is improving Uncle Jack presents herewith a recapitulation of his "Advice to Houseguests" column in the Outer Banks Current many years ago. He should mention that this and 99 other essays on life on the Outer Banks are contained in a Kindle book which is available from Amazon for a trifling $4.99. Google "Uncle Jack's Outer Banks" Kindle Edition for info about how to get it or send it to someone as a gift. You don't need a Kindle to read it either as long as you have a computer.
      
      

                            Advice to Houseguests

Uncle Jack has lived on the Outer Banks for a long time now and he has noticed some very interesting things about the flora and fauna. One thing he has noticed is that there are lots of swans around here in the winter but hardly any in the summer.
Another thing he has noticed is that houseguests are just the opposite of swans. You hardly ever see a houseguest around here in the winter but they are all over the place in the summer. Come to think of it Uncle Jack has never seen a houseguest and a swan at the same time.
Uncle Jack has noticed that the average houseguest tends to be a lot more trouble than the average swan. Swans eat out most of the time for one thing, and they never take showers. Houseguests spend most of their time sitting around the dining room table waiting for food to appear when they are not in the bathroom.
Anyway Uncle Jack thought it would be a good idea to give some advice to houseguests who are planning to come to the Outer Banks. These suggestions are not "cast in concrete" as they say over at Coastal Redi-Mix. Not everybody likes Stilton cheese, for instance, so you might not have to bring any if you are not staying with Uncle Jack.
What to bring your host and hostess:
One half-gallon Rebel Yell bourbon per person (excluding children under 5), three cases Rolling Rock beer, six pounds medium shrimp (heads off, please), two dozen steamed jumbo jimmy crabs, two dozen clams, five pounds scallops, three dozen Silver Queen corn, one bushel Currituck peaches, three pounds Stilton cheese, two cases good imported red table wine (ditto white), two loaves French bread, five pounds Virginia Diner peanuts.
Also bring assorted non-perishable items such as canned truffles and caviar that your host and hostess can enjoy next winter while watching the swans. Also bring sheets, pillow cases, towels, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, depilatories, aspirin, insect spray, styrofoam coolers and good books, all of which you should remember to forget when you leave.
Chores your host and hostess should not have to do during your visit: Cook meals, wash dishes, take out garbage, clean bathtub, scratch dogs, mow lawn, make morning coffee, smile.
Things you can do to express appreciation to your host and hostess: Go to see "The Lost Colony" every night by yourselves. Talk about pleasant things like what you are planning to fix for dinner tomorrow night or where you are planning to take your host and hostess for lunch. Do not talk about the horrible traffic or how the developers are ruining the Outer Banks or how rotten the fishing is in the summer or how terrible the weather has been during your visit.
Your host and hostess do not want to have to tell you how wonderful the weather was last week, how great the fishing is in the spring and fall, or how easy it is to cross the Bypass in February.
If you do everything Uncle Jack has suggested your host and hostess might invite you to come back again. If you are really lucky they might ask you to come back next winter when the swans are here.


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Their new condo building called the Carrollton, built in 1955 and named for Charles Carroll, a Baltimorean who signed the Declaration of Independence and was a friend of Johns Hopkins.

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Unusual tree in a neighbor's yard.

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Another neighbor's gorgeous front yard. The neighborhood crawls with landscapers' trucks every week day.

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Yet another unusual tree.

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How to prettify the front walk.

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Almost every house in Guilford has at least one bush as pretty as this one.

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This lovely home in South Nags Head lost most of its flowering trees and bushes to Hurricane Irene but they're coming back. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for info. A few prime weeks are still available but they won't be much longer.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:22 PM

Comments [3]



Saturday, May 4, 2013
Still Breathing
Uncle Jack has been so busy moving into his new condo and otherwise enjoying Baltimore's many cultural activities that he has sadly neglected his self-imposed blog-writing responsibilities for the past several months. When he got a letter from his old friends Bill and Joyce Shisler of Canton, Ahia last week in which they wonder if he has expired he thought maybe he should let them and others who might be wondering the same thing that he is indeed alive and well (sort of)in Charm City.
With the help of his internist, Dr. David L. Steinberg, and his cardiologist, Dr. Stuart Russell, both of Johns Hopkins Medical Center (the world's finest according to U.S. News and World Report)he is toddling along at a pretty good clip for an octogenarian. Needless to say Mrs. U.J. plays a major role in keeping him moving, too. Yesterday, for example, she managed to lure him out of his barcalounger long enough to take in the exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite paintings at the National Gallery in D.C. and that will keep him going for a few days even if he forgets to take his pills.
       They spent a couple of weeks in South Nags Head at the beginning of April which was enjoyable in spite of the weather which was uniformly windy and much colder than in Baltimore. They left Nags Head on April 10 when the high was 65 there and arrived in Baltimore seven hours later where it was 96F. Weird.
       They will be back in South Nags for a couple of weeks at the end of May before the summer renters usurp all the weeks until sometime in the fall. They are hoping to be able to walk on the beach this time without being flayed alive by flying sand. They still have a couple of open weeks in prime time so check it out by Googling "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage".
       Baltimore is incredibly beautiful right now with all the trees, bushes and flowers in full bloom. Time to go for a walk.
      


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Lunch at the National Gallery is always a delight. Incredibly good food at unbelievable prices. The National Gallery is truly a national treasure with free admission to all.

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Picture 2 Yesterday's all-you-care-to-eat buffet luncheon menu (not including the bottle of imported Czech pilsner which cost as much as a six-pack of Yuengling)

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Sherwood Gardens is a favorite destination for our morning walks these days. 80,000 tulips on display.

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A small sample.

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Uncle Jack's "senior friendly" rental house in South Nags Head. Still a few prime weeks available. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" for info.

posted by Uncle Jack at 2:06 PM

Comments [756]




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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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