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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
A Visit from Afar

              Uncle Jack's only begotten son, Eric, his wife, Judy, and grandchildren Kelly and Alex flew out from Los Angeles last week for their (almost) annual visit. They started coming when the kids were little and now they are both college graduates so much has changed since their first visits. Much of the conversation while driving up the Beach Road or the Bypass would consist of observations like "This is where Newman's Shell Shop used to be" or "What happened to the Sea Oatel ?" or especially poignant "Where is the old Yellowhouse Gallery?" Sad. Very sad.
              But the ocean is still here and they made the most of it in spite of the torrential rains that made their week at the beach one of the rainiest on record. Frequent dashes to the beach between downpours allowed plenty of time for lengthy sessions of strenuous body-surfing followed by brief periods of scorching in the elusive sun. Vast quantities of food and drink were consumed, including at least two dozen luscious Duck Donuts, and a good time was had by all.
              And all of a sudden Labor Day is upon us along with occasional hints that hurricane season is here as well. The biggest winds of the next couple of months will be emanating from the Caribbean instead of Washington, D.C. and perhaps that will turn out to be a good thing. The possibility of a bad blow notwithstanding he looks forward to the many delights of September and October, his two favorite months of the year on the Outer Banks.


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More rain fell while they were here than they would normally experience in a decade in California but it didn't keep them out of the ocean.

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Luckily the red flags were not up every day so the entire family got in some wave-riding between the thunderstorms. Alex nearly wore out his belly board (and his belly, too, for that matter).

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Kelly's fondness for Nags Head is reflected in this tattoo. Uncle Jack was surprised that a California tattoo artist could capture the Nags Head nag so well.

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They stopped at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on the way home from a trip to Hatteras just as one group of lucky anglers unloaded their catch of Yellowfins and a large grouper.

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The skies cleared at one point late Monday afternoon to reveal this magnificent display of clouds of all kinds looking south from Uncle Jack's house in Sonag.

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Meanwhile in the back yard....

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Mrs. U.J.'s tomatoes never got very big but there were enough of them to provide a week's worth of excellent sandwiches on Pepperidge Farm white bread slathered with mayo. Better than nothing, for sure. Next year they will grow in pots.

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Massive cumulus clouds have been a regular feature of the Outer Banks skies for the past few days. Fortunately they didn't spoil the eclipse for anybody in this area.

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Uncle Jack is not sure why people do this but they do. Probably better than digging a huge hole that somebody can fall into as happened recently.

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A fixer-upper in Wanchese on the road to O'Neal's restaurant where the family pigged out on delicious local shrimp and soft-shells as only O'Neal's can cook them.

posted by Uncle Jack at 1:10 PM

Comments [2]



Monday, August 7, 2017
Fake news and other stuff
              Uncle Jack was chagrined to learn from one of his sharp-eyed readers that he was guilty of purveying FAKE NEWS in his last blog entry. Even though this puts him in the same company with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and other famous fakers he feels bad about adding to the world's already copious supply of misinformation. What he did was show a picture of a damaged church in Chesapeake that he said was a victim of Hurricane Matthew back in the fall of 2016. Turns out that said church was actually damaged by a tornado earlier this year and it must have been some other church that Matthew unroofed. Uncle Jack apologizes for this gaffe and promises to try to improve his reporting chops in the future.
                                                                                           .........................

       He mentioned last time that he got a new iPad Pro for his birthday and how it has improved his life. One of the best things about his new iPad Pro is its speed. With his old Toshiba laptop he had to wait forever for anything to happen when he clicked on the Baltimore Sun or the Guardian from London or the Economist or any of the other "fake news" sources he reads every day. With his new iPad when he clicks on something it appears on his screen in about two milliseconds. Needless to say this frees up a lot more browsing time and he gets to read a lot more news every day than he used to.
       Sometimes the news he reads is so sad that he wishes that it was fake. For example just a few minutes ago he read that J.C. Penney was going to close a lot more stores this year on top of the ones they closed last year. This makes him sad because it makes him remember the wonderful J.C. Penney store in his home town when he was a kid where his mother would take him to buy new clothes for school and also his annual pair of Buster Brown shoes and in the spring his new high-top tennies to race around in all summer after the snow finally melted.
       What he really loved about the Penney's store was not the merchandise but the check-out desk where you went to pay for stuff. Penney's was the only store in town that had the ultra-modern payment method where the clerk would take your money and put it in a can with a sales slip and send it whisking up to the cashiers on the second floor who would take out the money and send a receipt back down the conveyor belt to the clerk. Uncle Jack must have watched this procedure a hundred times and never got tired of it. Nowadays kids get to watch their mothers pay by sliding a credit card through a box and while this might be interesting once or twice he can't believe that even the most impressionable children will still remember it 60 or 70 years from now. Sometimes progress is not all that it's cracked up to be.
       He also read in the same article that Sears-Roebuck is also having a hard time keeping up with Amazon and Wal-Mart and they are closing stores all over the country too. This really made him tear up because Sears Roebuck is the source of some of his fondest childhood memories. The big Sears-Roebuck in Minneapolis was only a short walk from his Uncle's house so many times he and his childhood buddy Richard Anderson would walk over there to see the sights. (This was back when two little kids could walk down a city street for hours without fear of being beaten, robbed or abducted).
       First they would head for the shoe department where they would step on the x-ray machine and see their foot bones right through their shoes. No MRI he has had since that time has impressed him as much. After the shoe manager told us to move along we would head for the donut-making machine in the food department where we could watch a gob of raw dough drop into the hot oil at one end and emerge at the other as a fully cooked donut anointed with powdered sugar. A mesmerizing sight for small boys.
The Sears Roebuck in Minneapolis was probably four or five times bigger than a typical Wal-Mart SuperStore so they could spend hours wandering through the place and fantasizing about all the stuff they would buy when they became rich and famous baseball players.
              It didn't work out quite the way he planned but he's happy enough just living in
South Nags Head again----especially because Charter carries the Orioles games.


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Daytime cloud formations probably don't get the attention they deserve compared to spectacular sunrises and sunsets. This bunch moved across the southern sky yesterday afternoon, keeping us entertained for over an hour.

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We sat next to this handsome turtle on the beach in Sonag for an hour yesterday afternoon before a rogue wave dissolved him and sent us scrambling for dry ground.

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Eight bedrooms not enough? Here's one solution.

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It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a drone! Naahh. It's a really neat kite.

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Uncle Jack is reading a book by David Halberstam about the 1950's and right now he is in the chapter about the Korean War. Brought back memories of when he and his buddie Jose Vega served on the DD-692 at the tail end of that conflict.

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Uncle Jack's Dad was a biker back in the day. He wishes he could have ridden in that sidecar but the bike got traded for a Model A before he was born.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:04 PM

Comments [3]



Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Never a dull moment
It was Uncle Jack's melancholy duty to return his only begotten daughter, Emily, to the airport in Norfolk on Monday. It was her first visit to the Outer Banks in 17 years so much of her time (when we weren't on the beach) was spent getting caught up with what's new and what's gone since the millennium began. "Oh my God" and "Can you believe that" were the expletives of the week and they weren't always prompted by the latest news from the White House.
A trip to the airport is seldom without trauma of some kind and this one was no exception. We had barely crossed the bridge when we encountered a long line of stationary vehicles stretching out ahead of us as far as the eye could see. Uncle Jack thought at first it might be a jam originating at the entrance to the new water park but he was wrong. We joined the line, turned off the motor and sat for one solid hour, biting our fingernails and wondering if we could get to the terminal in time for her 2:30 flight if something good didn't happen very soon.
Relief came at about 11:30 a.m. in the form of two of Seto's trucks carrying away the smashed remains of two cars that had obviously collided violently somewhere ahead of us. The Currituck County police and firemen who were on the scene apparently believe in tidying up before allowing stalled traffic to move and they left no clue as to where the accident had actually happened. In any case we got to the airport with no time to spare and the rest of the trip was uneventful for both of us. Not so much for the folks involved in the accident whose fates are still unknown by Uncle Jack.
Uncle Jack decided to eat his lunch safely on the way home by parking under a shade tree in the parking lot of one of the numerous churches that line the rural road that is his shortcut from Indian River Road to Battlefield Boulevard which avoids the Toll Road. While observing the wreckage of the church in whose parking lot he had chosen to scoff his filet mignon sandwich he suddenly realized where he had seen it before. It was on TV in the hours just before Hurricane Matthew hit the Outer Banks and knocked out power to almost everybody including Uncle Jack. High winds were already affecting the Tidewater area and all the evening news crews were reveling in damage reports which included a short videotape of a church in Chesapeake that was losing its roof to the wind. This, he realized, was the very same church. Apparently the damage was so severe that the building is now being completely demolished.
Uncle wonders how the pastor of that church explained to his flock why God selected their sanctuary for destruction when there are so many others nearby in that neighborhood He could have picked on.


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The first inkling that this was not to be a trouble-free trip to Norfolk. These cars were not moving.

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Demolition seems to be progressing very slowly on this church in Chesapeake. Hurricane Matthew worked a lot faster.

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Uncle Jack just found out that he can swipe pictures from Google Earth and download them into the picture file in his iPad Pro. His house is visible in this shot of part of South Nags Head near Ciltvaira street.

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The red flags were out for a couple of days over the week-end and with good reason. A few swimmers were willing to take their chances. Uncle Jack remembers when a swimmer at the First Colony Inn dislocated his shoulder with a tube like this.

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Moon jellyfish like this littered the beach in Sonag one day last week. They all sublimated in due time.

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If you're wondering what these guys were looking at Uncle Jack can tell you they were cavorting in the very rough surf in very flimsy bikinis. Hope springs eternal.

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Mrs. U.J.'s tomatoes looked like they were dead on arrival after the monsoon rains recently but she has somehow nursed them back to life---sort of.

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The latest in wheeled beach transport. PVC pipe is the duct tape of plastic.

posted by Uncle Jack at 2:34 PM

Comments [2]




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Except for short hiatus in Baltimore Uncle Jack has lived in Nags Head for over 45 years. He was a columnist for the Outer Banks Current and its successor, the Outer Banks Sentinel, for 20 years. A collection of his columns is available from Amazon Kindle under the title Uncle Jack's Outer Banks. He and Mrs. Uncle Jack, aka Sue, live in South Nags Head whence he observes and sometimes comments on the passing parade.
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