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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog
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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 [3]

Friday, July 28, 2017
Trip to Hatteras on Blackout Day
Yesterday (Thursday) seemed like a perfect day to take Uncle Jack's visiting daughter Emily for a run down to Hatteras Village to see all the improvements that have been made to Hatteras Island since her last visit 17 years ago. They didn't know when they started out that the entire island, and Ocracoke too, had been without power for several hours. They passed the scene of the crime at the south end of the Bonner Bridge twice but still didn't know what had happened until they got home and heard about it on the internet. Bad. Very bad.
They had a delightful trip as the pictures might suggest. This is not likely to be the experience of the thousands of vacationers who will descend on Hatteras on turnover day tomorrow only to find total chaos. Uncle Jack's heart goes out to them.

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It seemed odd to us that all the traffic on the Bonner Bridge seemed to be heading north when we crossed but it made sense when we found out about the power outage later.

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We were impressed by the progress made on the new bridge which is obviously much bigger and sturdier than the present one. It looks like it could still be standing when the rest of Route 12 has washed away south of it.

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The old cemetery in the Salvo Day Use Area is nicely fenced at the present time but waves from the sound keep chopping away at the remaining grave sites.

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The huge Salvo campground, a Park Service maintained facility that once accommodated hundreds of campers and RVs is now reduced to a tiny Day Use Area adjacent to the cemetery. Uncle Jack has never understood why.

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From the looks of the old Rodanthe water park we really needed a new one around here.

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The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum was up and running, apparently on generator power. The ferry landing next door was completely devoid of cars on a busy day in July which made us wonder if we were in a Stephen King novel. Weird.

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This granite marker stands at the entrance to the museum, an addition since we last visited. The building houses many more interesting exhibits than before and is well worth a visit now.

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The other side of the marker.

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Lunch at Fish Heads on the Outer Banks Pier on the way home. Not a single restaurant on Hatteras was open as far as we could tell. The crowd on both sides of the pier was the biggest Uncle Jack has ever seen.

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After the trip there was still time for a refreshing dip. Emily can't do this in Fitchburg, MA.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:20 AM

Comments [2]

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Home Again....To Stay
Uncle Jack has two good reasons to resume writing his blog this week. For one thing he and Mrs. Uncle Jack have sold their condo in Baltimore where they have lived most of the time for the past eight years and they have returned home to South Nags Head where they intend to stay from now on. That in itself is enough reason to celebrate but there is more.
For the past several years Uncle Jack's ancient Toshiba laptop has been slowly dying. He spends more time now waiting for gmail to open on his desktop than he spends actually reading his mail. Instead of the delightful companion and tool that it was in the beginning it has become a daily source of annoyance bordering on rage. Lucky for him Mrs. Uncle Jack could not help but notice his outbursts of frustration which have occurred more and more frequently in recent months and are marked by increasingly creative profanity.
As his 87th birthday approached last month she colluded with her daughter, who knows IT inside and out, to find a solution to his problem before it drove both of us over the brink. He is happy to report that they found the perfect remedy in the form of a brand new state of the art iPad Pro which became one of the best birthday presents of his long and happy life.
He has been exploring its many wondrous features for about a month now and he can tell you it has given him a new lease on life. No longer is writing a painful and frustrating chore. Everything he wants his iPad to do it does instantly, no questions asked. And if he has questions himself he simply asks Siri, the pleasant young lady who lives behind the screen and knows everything and never sleeps.
Writing an occasional blog entry will no longer be the onerous chore it has become for the past couple of years and it will give him an excuse to play with his new toy in a semi-constructive way that he hopes at least a few readers will find at least slightly entertaining.
He promises that this is the last time you will see the word Trump in this space. He also promises to find a way to upload all his pictures in the correct orientation. Stay tuned.

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Looking south from the walkover near the Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk on Tuesday July 25. This should make it a little more difficult for Mother Nature to wash out the Beach Road. For a while at least.

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Mrs. U.J.'s tomato plants shot up like rockets until the rains came and submerged the roots for several days. Now most of the leaves are shriveled and have not been revived by the recent sunshine. Bad. Very bad.

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Looking north from the Black Pelican walkover on Tuesday. One wonders if folks will be permitted to build on the ocean side after renourishment is finished. Pelican's Perch should provide some incentive to the daring.

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Uncle Jack's brother Don caught this fish but generously let him pose with it. He is too old to practice this kind of deception any more unlike some politicians he knows. This picture was taken at his uncle's cabin in Minnesota back around 1940.

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You would have to be pretty old to remember the First Colony Gallery which was the precursor of Yellowhouse Gallery back in the early 70's. The building still survives amongst a group of vintage Nags Head structures gathered by the late Carolista Baum.

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Many years ago Uncle Jack would get up before dawn and trudge up to the beach with his coffee to take a picture of the sunrise. He has since come to his senses but he still has the pictures to remind him of when he was young and foolish.

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Anybody remember Nags Head's first attempt at beach renourishment many years ago? Didn't work out too well as this photo by Ray Midgett shows.

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By 2011 they knew how to do it right but it did cost a little more.

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Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

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Two of Russ Beale's marvelous little carvings. What talent he had.

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:40 PM

Comments [11]

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After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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