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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Monday, July 25, 2011
The New, Improved Sonag
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. made a quick trip to Sonag over the weekend to check on their rental house and to see how beach renourishment was unfolding in the old neighborhood. He is pleased to report that their first six renters have treated their house very gently for which they are enormously grateful. They are happy that it is now rented solidly through the middle of September but they are beginning to wonder when they will be able to get back into it themselves. January maybe which is not all bad because it should be cooler by then. The heat over the weekend was stupefying and they were not at all unhappy to head back to Baltimore this morning (Monday) where the high today was only 95.
       He has to confess that they were astonished by the newly refurbished beach which is vastly wider than he had thought it would be. It is so wide, in fact, that they were unable to hear the ocean from the oceanfront house they were staying in. So much sand has been pumped in front of the old beach that he is forced to consider the possibility that it may not all wash away in the first few storms.
       If any of his readers have good recipes for crow he would like to have them because it appears he might have to eat some before this adventure has run its course. Stay tuned.


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New beach at the foot of James Street near the 19 milepost. Almost too far to walk to the water's edge in 100 degree heat.

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Plenty of room for everybody in Sonag now.

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Comfort Inn South from Jennette's Pier. No longer awash at high tide.

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Surfside Drive. Looks like there's room to rebuild the street and put in a row of new houses. You can bet that somebody is thinking about how to pull it off.

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The first oceanfront house north of Surfside is now for sale, presumably at a somewhat higher price than when it was sitting in the surf.

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Porta-potty en route to new destination.

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The new sand must be great for sculpting. This octopus and prey is one of the best we have seen.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:09 PM

Comments [7]



Monday, July 18, 2011
Beautiful Bawlmer
       Baltimore is lacking a beach but it is not bereft of natural beauty of a different sort. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. continue to discover new places to walk where it is possible to forget that they are in a city. Yesterday they spent an hour strolling the magnificent grounds of St. Mary's Seminary and University, the oldest Roman Catholic seminary in the U.S., which is located in a neighborhood called Roland Park not far from their condo.


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Driveway leading up to the main seminary building.

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Another driveway. Some of the trees are ancient.

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The main building, one of several on the huge campus. Built in 1929.

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Closeup of main entrance with intruder.

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Back on the Johns Hopkins campus the library addition is taking shape. Only about a year to go now.

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One day Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will be climbing these new steps on a daily basis.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:53 AM

Comments [0]



Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Winnebago Blues
       Uncle Jack has been reading a lot lately about the horrendous traffic on the Outer Banks, mostly on the Bypass (lol) but also up north of Southern Shores and on Hiway 158 coming from the north, especially on weekends. There is nothing new about this, of course. Even in the old days forty years ago he can remember the bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on 158 on Saturdays when he drove down from Pittsburgh and it was even worse then because of all the pungent pig farms that used to line the road in Currituck county.
       Like many drivers he rejoiced when the highway got four-laned and again when the second span was added to the Wright Brothers bridge and again when the Bypass got widened but each time his euphoria was short-lived. Traffic seems to have a way of catching up with and overcoming any efforts to contain it.
       About all a driver can do under the circumstances is to learn a few tricks about when and where to drive when traffic is least awful and grin and bear it when you simply can't avoid it.
       He knows that traffic has been a problem for a long time because he wrote this piece many years ago when things were a lot better than they are now, traffic-wise. (scroll down)


                                   Winnebago Blues                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Dear Uncle Jack,
One night last week I was racing up to the ABC store to get some cough medicine for my baby but I got behind this big Winnebago with Kansas plates going 25 mph and by the time I got past them it was too late. The ABC store was closed so I had to turn around and go back home and explain to my baby why I couldn't get her cough medicine and she got sore and made the kids go to bed instead of watching "X Files" and she pulled the plug on me, too, if you know what I mean.
Needless to say this whole experience made me pretty disgusted and the reason I am telling you all this Uncle Jack is that I know you are the kind of person who has to get to the ABC store in a big hurry sometimes so you know how I feel. I thought maybe if you published this letter it would galvanize our lawmakers into action to do something about all the slow drivers on the bypass. Why don't they pass a law that would make it a felony not to drive as fast as the law allows at all times?

Junior Johnson
South Nags Head



Dear Junior,
Uncle Jack knows exactly how you feel and you surely have his sympathy. He, too, has spent many an hour creeping along behind large recreational vehicles on the bypass and wondering if he would ever get where he is going which is usually but not always the ABC store. He has to confess he does enjoy reading all those colorful travel stickers they put on the back of those RV's but he wonders sometimes how you could get to all those scenic and historical places such as Knott's Berry Farm in California and Tarpon World in Florida all in one lifetime if you never drove over 25 mph.
He is sorry to tell you he does not think there is much the lawmakers can do about this problem so from now on you should do what Uncle Jack does and plan ahead so you do not have to make so many emergency trips to the ABC store. One way to do this is to take out a home equity loan and stock up on whatever you think you will need between now and the end of the tourist season. Uncle Jack is fairly sure you can deduct the interest from your income tax so that makes it a pretty good deal if you are careful not to lose your house.
On the other hand if you live in South Nags Head you are probably going to lose your house to the ocean sooner or later anyway so it might not make any difference.
Uncle Jack does not think it would be a good idea to make those Winnebagos go faster because if you ask him the only thing worse than being behind a large RV when it is going 25 mph is being in front of one when it is going faster than 25 mph. Anyway Uncle Jack knows that all those slow-moving people with the funny license plates are the ones who provide him with the financial wherewithal to live on the Outer Banks instead of just visiting once in a while so he is willing to put up with a slow trip to the ABC store from time to time.

Graciously,
Uncle Jack



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Hey there!!! WOW WOW WOW!!! That pretty much sums up our visit in your house last week, we were 110% impressed by your set up and the homey feeling that we got as soon as we opened the door! It is a little piece of paradise....my hubby calls it the

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"Jackpot" place!! Thanks a million for letting us rent your place, I couldn't have dreamed of a better spot! The skylight in our bedroom was pretty neat during a thunderstorm!! We plan to return next summer... (Recent letter from a happy renter)

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For more information about rates, availability, etc. google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage. Senior citizen friendly with all rooms on one floor, seven steps up from the ground.

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:57 PM

Comments [2]



Sunday, July 10, 2011
Summer fun in Charm City
All things considered Uncle Jack would have preferred to be in South Nags Head this week given the atrocious heat in Baltimore and its lack of proximity to the beach. But he realizes he can't have everything so he tries to make the best of it which in Charm City is really not all that difficult. For example this morning he and Mrs. U.J. went to the Waverly Farmers Market near their house for the first time in almost a month. The market is in full swing now that summer is here and the various growers offer an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetable at very reasonable prices. They staggered home with a ton of stuff including more peaches than they can probably eat in a week but they are perfect and long-awaited so they will do their best to scoff them up before next Saturday's market.
       Lots of the farmers are now selling tomatoes which look great but have absolutely no flavor and this he finds very scary. Can it be possible that the luscious acidic tomatoes he has always enjoyed in sandwiches made with Pepperidge Farm white bread and mayonnaise are no longer to be had from anyone? He can only hope he is wrong. This is serious.
       This was the day of the monthly fleamarket in Fells Point so they got out there early before it got too hot and walked around the waterfront for a while before hitting the market. Fells Point is one of the oldest parts of Baltimore and still retains a lot of 19th century buildings, many of which have been converted to new uses. It's one of the most charming parts of Charm City and always a pleasure to wander around in.
       The Orioles are mired in a massive slump, having lost 20 of their last 26 games and 10 out of the last 11. It seems a bit early to start saying "wait 'til next year" (which is what Orioles fans were saying all last year when the O's compiled the worst record in all of baseball)
but it's beginning to look like that's the way it is.
Sigh.
      


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It tastes as good as it looks.

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Sometimes it's so good you can't wait until you get home.

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This huge warehouse has been turned into elegant condos and office space as have several other buildings in Fells Point.

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Across the harbor a ship unloads sugar at the Domino factory, the last of the big old industrial operations on the waterfront.

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The Fells Point fleamarket is one of the best. Unle Jack picked up a history of steelmaking at Sparrows Point near Baltimore, once the largest steel mill in the world but now totally moribund. A sad story for sure.

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Uncle Jack's house in South Nags Head is fully booked through August but it would be a great place to spend a week in the fall. For info about availability and rates google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:07 PM

Comments [4]



Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Home again
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. completed their transition from air-conditioned Camden, Maine to broiling Baltimore on Sunday. Their itinerary included an overnight stay in booming, bustling Portland, Maine which is rapidly transforming itself from a decaying seaport into one of the more exciting small cities in the U.S. They also spent a couple of hours wandering the north end of Boston before their plane departed from nearby Logan airport in the late afternoon. This part of the city looks like Charm City's Little Italy on steroids with dozens of Italian restaurants and gelato shops fronting narrow streets.
       They watched Baltimore's spectacular 30th annual fireworks display Monday night from the safety of their 7th floor condo. Meanwhile the city shot itself in the foot tourism-wise when a man from Tennessee was stabbed to death and a four-year-old wounded by a stray bullet while watching the fireworks in a crowd at the inner harbor. Home sweet home.


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Camden harbor from the park in front of the library. Easy to love. Hard to leave.

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The Maine state prison operates a shop in Thomaston where items made by prisoners, mostly from wood, are sold. This window display is not for sale but it is certainly eye-catching.

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Believe it or not this larger-than-life sculpture is made entirely of wood including every part of the motorcycle.

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Paul Revere is revered in North Boston.

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The fabled Old North Church looms over the north side.

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This human prop stands guard over a patriotic gift shop. They should get the Maine prisoners to carve a replica and save some money.

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American entrepreneurship at its finest.

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Meanwhile back at Johns Hopkins U. ground is broken for yet another 12-story building. Stay tuned for progress reports.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:02 AM

Comments [0]



Friday, July 1, 2011
Ciao Camden
       Our penultimate day in Camden, Maine. Tomorrow it's off to Portland and then on Sunday to Baltimore via Boston. It has been a lovely week with mostly perfect weather---memories that may help us endure the long, hot summer to come in Charm City.

       Sometime today the counter on Uncle Jack's weblog will turn 500,000 page views. Thanks to all who have contributed to that total. Will he live to see a million? Stay tuned.


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The "Red's Eats" of hotdogs located in Rockland. A much-loved institution for many years and rightfully so.

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Sculpture on the grounds of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Your guess is as good as Uncle Jack's.

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Ditto. This one is by Robert Indiana who found a lucrative way to cash in on "LOVE".

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If Bob Chinappi is still checking in he should know that this sculpture now adorns the rock garden we watched a couple of years ago as it was a-building.

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This one, too. With a bow to Giacometti.

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This antique motor launch is docked in front of our rental house. It ran aground ten years ago and was nearly lost but it was lovingly restored by local craftsmen. It's called Beluga.

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A pretty front yard on Park Street in Camden.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:31 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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