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Friday, November 30, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday November 30, 2007

     Uncle Jack should have checked the weather before he walked up to the beach at 6:30 this morning.  He could have saved himself the trouble. Once again the wind was whistling out of the northeast at a furious clip, rendering the beach unfit for man nor beast nor even bulldozer.  The sun was still 20 minutes from rising so he took a couple of quick pictures and let the wind propel him back down Whitecap street.  (He reached Old Oregon Inlet Road at 6:40 just in time to watch the school bus go by, carrying its precious cargo to Manteo. His heart goes out to all those little people who have to get up at 6 a.m to go to school---and to the parents who have to make them do it).

      He notes that today is the ultimate day of November (not the penultimate day which was yesterday).  This means the official beginning of winter is only three weeks away which will come as a surprise to Uncle Jack's little brother out in Minnesota where the temperature yesterday was zero degrees F.

     He should mention that he returned the terrific book about hurricanes and global warming that he talked about yesterday ("Storm World" by Chris Mooney) to the KDH library in case anybody else would like to read it. It's a good 'un.

     Yesterday's News and Observer article on the CRC's proposal to allow construction on newly renourished beaches reminded him of something he wrote a couple of years ago after Isabel paid her visit, to wit:

                  Politics of Erosion

Dear Uncle Jack,

How about that crazy ocean last week? Seriously, Uncle Jack, what are we going to do about the erosion around here? You must have learned a lot about erosion in high school science class so let’s hear it.

Bobby Bulkhead

Kill Devil Hills

Dear Bobby,

You are right that Uncle Jack knows a fair amount about erosion but he sure didn’t learn about it in high school science. Up in northern Wisconsin where he went to high school there was not much erosion going on so the teacher did not spend a lot of time on it. Instead Uncle Jack learned a lot about ice and snow and sleet and how to breathe when it is forty degrees below zero. Even now a lot of that knowledge comes in handy when he is down under his house in Nags Head fixing his frozen pipes.

If you want to know the truth he did not learn anything about erosion until he moved to Virginia Beach about thirty years ago and he asked somebody about those big pipes they had on the beach which you had to climb over to get to the ocean. It turned out that the big pipes were there to pump sand back on the beach after it washed away every winter and that was when he started learning about erosion.

He found out that erosion is not hard to understand because it is just sand getting pushed around by the ocean just the way it has for millions of years. If you want to know the truth erosion was a pretty boring subject until people started building things on top of sand that the ocean wasn’t through moving yet and now erosion is very interesting to a lot of people and especially the ones who own those buildings.

If you ask Uncle Jack, though, erosion is not half as interesting as what you could call the “politics of erosion”. And the more he learns about the politics of erosion the more confused he gets.

First he read in the paper where the legislature passed this law called the Coastal Area Management Act which was supposed to make it harder for people to do dumb things like putting buildings too close to the ocean. Uncle Jack thought that sounded like a pretty good law but then he read in the paper that if you do go ahead and build too close to the ocean the federal government will sell you cheap insurance to cover your building when it falls into the ocean. You can understand why he would be a little confused about that.

Anyway the next thing he read in the paper was that this N.C. agency called the Coastal Resources Commission had come up with a new rule that says that if you want to build a big building near the ocean you have to put it back far enough so it won’t be washed away for several years.

Uncle Jack thought that was a very smart thing to do because he knew how much trouble the big buildings caused for Virginia Beach. But then he read in the paper that the new rule made the county commissioners very mad and they told the Coastal Resources Commission to go away and leave Dare County alone.

Then just last week he read in the paper that the county commissioners were feeling better again because some high official of the Coastal Resources Commission came to Dare County to look at some big buildings that are so close to the ocean that sometimes they are actually in the ocean depending on which way the wind is blowing.

This official said he was going to do everything he could to protect those buildings that would never have been built where they are if the new rule which the commissioners don’t like had been in effect when those buildings were built.

So you can see why Uncle Jack gets confused sometimes about the politics of erosion.

(As the French say, "Plus ca change, plus la meme chose")

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6:30 a.m. looking east. Uncle Jack would not want to be a bulldozer operator today.

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Same time looking southeast. The sun is over there somewhere but Uncle Jack did not wait around to see it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:18 AM

Comments [2]

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday November 29, 2007

  The sun came up this morning and for a change Uncle Jack was there to see it.  It was a balmy 61 degrees at 6:30 so there was no reason not to hang around until 6:50 and watch it emerge from the sea and then disappear again behind a thick cloudbank.  Pretty. Unfortunately the rain moved in again  mid-morning and it looks like it's here to stay.

    The bad weather has given Uncle Jack lots of time to read for the past few days.  He just finished a very interesting book titled "Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming" by Chris Mooney, published by Harcourt in 2007.  Mooney is a New Orleans-based reporter who not surprisingly has a special interest in hurricanes.

     In this book he reviews the controversy raging among meteorologists and climatologists over the extent to which global warming will affect future hurricanes and the extent to which it may have already affected hurricanes of the recent past like Katrina.  2004 and 2005 were record-breaking years in the hurricane department, both in terms of the number of storms and their intensity.  This fact has led some scientists (and many non-scientists) to speculate that global warming is already a factor in hurricane production.  Others say there is no scientific evidence to support this view and the two sides have engaged in some battles royal at conferences and in the media in the past few years.

      The author does an excellent job of examining the evidence and reaches the conclusion (also reached by many scientists) that it doesn't really matter if global warming eventually makes hurricanes more frequent or more powerful than they are now.  The fact is that we will continue to have many hurricanes and powerful hurricanes, just as we have had in the past,  no matter what we are able to do about global warming.

    All scientists agree that there are some things that governments can do to mitigate somewhat the terrible destruction and loss of life that often results from hurricanes.  Building codes in hurricane prone areas can be strengthened, for example.  Steps can be taken to discourage building in especially vulnerable locations such as low-lying islands or beachfronts where the storm surge wreaks the greatest havoc.  Federally subsidized flood insurance which actually encourages building where it might otherwise be too costly should be eliminated. 

      You don't have to be a rocket scientist---or even a meteorologist---to see the merits of this approach to storm damage mitigation so it was distressing for Uncle Jack to read the following article which appeared in yesterday's Raleigh News and Observer. Read it and weep. 

 Plan would allow homes closer to the Atlantic

Wade Rawlins, Staff Writer.  The state's Coastal Resources Commission, which sets rules for shoreline development, is considering a major policy shift that would allow some homes to be built closer to the ocean than currently allowed.

A public hearing will be held today on easing rules for shoreline development in coastal towns that regularly pump sand onto their beaches. The Coastal Resources Commission will take written comments on the issue through Dec. 31 and might vote on the change in January.

The current rule says structures must be a certain distance from the first line of vegetation on the beach. Before a town pumps sand onto an eroding beach, the vegetation line is defined.

Town boosters, developers and oceanfront property owners have complained that the rule prevents scores of vacant lots from being developed and hundreds of older houses from being replaced after beach renourishment has added depth to the shoreline.

Defenders of the rule argue that renourished beaches provide a false sense of security and eventually wash away if not maintained. They say towns should be moving farther from the ocean, not closer to it.

Proponents of a change say that renourished beaches offer some protection and houses built to higher standards can withstand storms better than many older beach cottages.

Under the proposed change, towns with beach renourishment programs would be able to apply for a town-wide exception to the vegetation line if there are lots that can't meet the setback.

Jeff Warren, a coastal hazards specialist with the Division of Coastal Management, said the change, if approved by the Coastal Resources Commission next year, would allow some development closer to the ocean. Structures built under the exception would be limited to 2,000 square feet.

To qualify for the exception, towns would have to show they have a 30-year beach nourishment program and a way to pay for it.

"The effect of this is going to be felt more on the redevelopment," Warren said. "Some towns like this because it provides an economic engine to provide new structures and keep the health of their oceanfront alive."

wade.rawlins@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-

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6:30 a.m.

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6:55 Definitely worth getting up for.

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The bulldozer lady was up at the crack of dawn, too.

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If push comes to shove, will this help?

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:10 PM

Comments [829]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sonag sunrise Wednesday November 28, 2007

      Uncle Jack is pleased to report that the rain finally went away yesterday morning.  It was too late to get a sunrise picture but at least he and Mrs. U.J. were able to walk on the beach for the first time since Thanksgiving Day.

      The sky is clear again this morning and he did go up to the beach at 6:30 as is his wont but he didn't stick around long enough to actually watch the sun come up.  There's a stiff wind blowing out of the north that might not have discouraged Nelly Myrtle Pridgen from her daily beachwalk but she was made of sterner stuff than Uncle Jack.

      In anticipation of even worse weather to come he and Mrs. U.J. went over to the Y yesterday and renewed their membership. Uncle Jack spent just enough time in the gym to affirm that he has not lost his touch in the 15-20 foot range.  His quixotic goal this year is to hit 30 free throws in a row, thus improving on his previous best, reached last spring, of 28.  To paraphrase his Sam and Omie T-shirt , "Everybody should believe in something.....I believe I'll go shoot buckets".

      He has not lost sight of the fact that football season is in full swing so he rooted around in the archives and dug up this plaintive letter he got from a football widow back in the days when he was an underpaid newspaper columnist. Perhaps this will help you to kill a little time today.

                     Football Blues

Dear Uncle Jack,

I have been happily married for almost six months to a really swell guy but now that it's football season I'm beginning to wonder if I made a mistake. All my husband does on Saturday and Sunday anymore is sit on the couch and drink beer and watch football on TV with his rowdy friends.

We used to do a lot of fun things on weekends like we would go over to Bodie Island and sit in one of the Park Service duck blinds and make believe we were in a jacuzzi in the Bahamas or we would go over to the mall and watch the seagulls drop their clams in the parking lot.

Now he won't even go out of the house on weekends and when I say something about it he tells me to bug off. To tell you the truth, Uncle Jack, I'm almost desperate enough to pack my things and go home to Mom and I would do it, too, except that she watches football all the time herself and all she ever talks about is how she would like to sack some guy named Ressleberger, whoever he is.

What can I do, Uncle Jack? You are my only hope.

Football Widow

Nags Head 

Dear Widow,

Uncle Jack is very glad you wrote to him because he knows what you are going through and he is pretty sure he can help you. But you have to put on your thinking cap and really try to understand what he is going to tell you which you probably won't like. First of all you have to realize that it is not your husband's fault that all he wants to do on weekends is watch football on TV. Ever since he was a tiny boy baby the various forces of society have been training him and shaping and preparing him for the day when he would be a man and it would be time for him to take his rightful place in front of the tube.

Now that he is a man he has no choice. When he hears the voices of Terry or Big John or Dandy Don he must watch football, just like when you hear the voice that tells you it is time to clean the oven you cannot rest until the oven is clean. You must understand that men are supposed to watch football on TV and you should be glad that your husband is a real man and not some kind of wimp who spends his weekends riding around on a golf cart.

If you can truly believe what Uncle Jack has told you so far you are well on the way toward getting through the football season and saving your marriage. All you have to do is find some constructive ways to spend your time and not bother your husband for the next few weekends. If you can clean the oven quietly that would be a good thing to do, but stay away from the refrigerator because you could be trampled. There is something about watching football on TV that makes men very thirsty, especially for Lite Beer from Miller.

Some people will tell you to be a good sport and try to learn about football so you can sit in the living room and enjoy it with your husband and his friends. You must believe Uncle Jack when he tells you this is very bad advice. Your husband does not want you to watch football on TV with him because there are many things he would have to explain to you and it would take all the fun out of watching.

For example, he would have to explain to you why the best play in football is the one where three or four enormous men jump on the little quarterback and try to separate his head from his body. When this play is successful, as it often is, the quarterback has to be carried off the field on a stretcher and taken directly to the emergency room. Also Uncle Jack is pretty sure your husband would not want you to see him drooling over the practically naked cheerleaders when they are bouncing around the sidelines the way they do.

The best thing for you to do is to get out of the house completely on weekends. Fall is the very best time to transplant sandspurs, for example, or you might want to get together with some of the other football widows and drive up by Moyock and watch the leaves fall off the trees.

Anyway Uncle Jack hopes he has helped you see some ways to get through football season and save your marriage, too. All it will take is a little understanding on your part.


Uncle Jack




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6:30 a.m. The sun actually came up about 20 minutes later but Uncle Jack wasn't there to watch it.

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On the beach yesterday at about the 19 milepost. This would be a great time for the Public Works department to make a sweep with a frontloader and a truck. Many parts of the beach in South Nags Head are littered with chunks of rubble like this.

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More of the same.

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This attractive display of sandbag remnants is also near the 19 milepost.

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Except for the man-made obstacles here and there the beach in South Nags Head is beautiful.

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Chez Sparky, sans sand.

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The next-to-last (penultimate?) cottage at the south end of Sonag is on the way to the rubble dump, no doubt to be replaced by something bigger and better in the near future.

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Meanwhile the marsh just south of the Tanger Outlet Mall is yielding to yet another complex of---you guessed it---condominiums. Will they last as long as Stonehenge?

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:22 AM

Comments [6]

Monday, November 26, 2007
Unrise in Sonag, Monday November 26, 2007

       Uncle Jack regrets to report that it's another damp, drizzly, cloudy day in South Nags Head.  The sun presumably rose this morning but there has been no sign of it yet today. He hasn't been able to take a picture out of doors since last Wednesday.  Blechhh.

       He did read an excellent article about beach renourishment (remember beach renourishment?) to which he has provided a link below.  By an excellent article, of course, he means one that he agrees with completely. 

     Have a nice day.  He will see if he can't do better tomorrow.


link: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/views/orl-robyoung2507nov25,0,1106408.story

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:13 AM

Comments [8]

Sunday, November 25, 2007
Unrise in Sonag, Sunday November 25, 2007

     South Nags Head, and for all he knows the entire Outer Banks, is totally clouded over this morning. There was no visible sunrise and his weather gurus say the sun may not be seen again until Wednesday.  This will be a good day to drive back home to Pittsburgh or wherever after what has been a terrific week weatherwise.

      While you are doing that Uncle Jack will be slumped in his ancient barcalounger leafing through the ad-swollen Sunday Times and munching New York bagels ("whole wheat everythings" slathered with Mrs. U.J.'s veggie cream cheese). This will keep him busy right up to lunch (turkey sandwiches of course) followed by his nap.  If it isn't raining later this afternoon he may take a walk on the beach.  Then again maybe he won't. Life is sweet when you're retired and still feel good.  Uncle Jack knows.

     In recognition of the arrival of the Christmas shopping season (aargh) he has plucked a piece from the archives that he wrote many years ago that is still as appropriate today as it was then.  He still hasn't cracked under the relentless pressure of Bose advertising and Bose hasn't quit trying to get him to buy one of their ugly little table-top radios. 

                 How Goes Bose?

It is now just a month before Christmas and as usual Uncle Jack has not even started his Christmas shopping. He is really cheap and he hates to spend money on anything so Christmas is always a particularly trying time for him.

According to what he learned in his Lutheran confirmation class a long time ago the custom of gift-giving at Christmas got started very early when the  Three Wise Men turned up at Bethlehem with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn Jesus. He has since learned from Google and other trustworthy sources that many biblical scholars have grave doubts about the accuracy of the story. However, this heresy is hotly disputed by the staff theologists at Amazon.com and Toys R Us whose bosses derive half their profits each year from traditional Christmas gift buying.

Uncle Jack has no idea where to buy frankincense and myrrh these days but he has found that gold still makes a very acceptable gift, particularly among his children and grandchildren who make up the bulk of his shopping list. There is no doubt in his mind that they would rather have gold than myrhh even though he has no idea what myrrh is.

As is usual at this time of the year the magazines and newspapers he reads have waxed fat with Christmas advertising. Every day he wades through page after page of exhortations to buy this or that "perfect gift" for everybody on his shopping list, the vast majority of which are wasted on a penurious skinflint such as himself. Rolex? Schmolex.

He must confess that there is one product which sometimes tempts him, especially when he is thinking about a gift for himself which is most of the time. It is called the "Bose Wave Radio" and the reason it tempts him is that he has not been able to peruse an upscale magazine for the past ten years without confronting at least one advertisement for this so-called "acoustic marvel", usually a full-page ad on one the most expensive pages. He does not exaggerate when he says he has been exposed to 10,000 of these ads over the past decade and he is only one of millions of magazine and newspaper readers who can make that claim. Obviously the Bose company has sold a ton of these little radios or their relentless and costly advertising campaign would have been dumped years ago. So why doesn't Uncle Jack own at least six of them by this time, sucker that he is for any device that plays music?

The main reason is that the Bose company has not been able to bludgeon him into accepting their claim that this itty-bitty little table radio is really worth $350. It is Uncle Jack's considered opinion, which appears to be shared by many audio aficionados, that the Bose Wave Radio may be a good product----perhaps nearly as good as the Bose flackmeisters say it is---but that at the same time it is ludicrously overpriced.

He cannot help wonder what part of the purchase price of every Bose Wave Radio goes toward paying for the avalanche of advertising designed to convince consumers to buy the damn thing no matter what it costs. He suspects it is a lot and he also suspects that eventually the Bose company will run out of customers who have so much money they don't have to worry about whether something they want is grossly overpriced or not. (Perhaps this is also why Bose is now pushing their incredibly expensive earphones in much the same way).

At some point they may be forced to lower the price of the radio and when it gets down to around $49.95 he might actually buy one out of curiosity if nothing else. And now, having gotten this pet peeve out of his system, he knows he will be able to sleep well tonight.

And it won't be on a Tempur-Pedic mattress.


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Sunrise in Camden Harbor this morning, courtesy of the Village Soup online newspaper and the Atlantica restaurant's webcam. Needless to say it's a lot colder up there.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:34 AM

Comments [7]

Saturday, November 24, 2007
Sonag sunrise, Saturday Nov. 24, 2007

     Uncle Jack trudged dutifully up to the beach at 6:30 this morning against his better judgment.  It's so windy, cold and nasty that he didn't even stick around long enough to watch the sun come up. Even so it's better than yesterday when the wind was blowing twice as hard and he didn't bother to leave the house.

     This was o.k., though, because as he mentioned yesterday he had a good book to read, namely Garrison Keillor's newest one about Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.  Uncle Jack has always had an affinity for Garrison Keillor's books because he grew up in a town in northern Wisconsin that is so much like Lake Wobegon it is uncanny.  Sometimes it seems like Garrison Keillor has been reading Uncle Jack's mind for ideas to put in his books.

      In the book he is reading now, for instance, called "Pontoon", the main character is a woman named Evelyn who has a sister named Florence.  Uncle Jack's mother's name was Florence and her sister's name was Evelyn. What are the chances of that happening by accident? Also Evelyn's husband's name was Jack so Florence's kids called him Uncle Jack all the time which was a little disconcerting.

     Another character's name is Lloyd which is a fairly unusual name these days.  Uncle Jack's sister's husband's name was Lloyd.  Sometimes Uncle Jack thinks Garrison Keillor owes him an explanation for all these "coincidences".

     Anyway like all of Garrison Keillor's books this one is drop-dead funny, especially for somebody who grew up in a town like Lake Wobegon and shares his dark vision of that experience.  Uncle Jack chose the adjective "drop-dead" advisedly because Keillor's humor is often as black as it comes.  A lot of folks in the upper Midwest, including not a few Lutherans, do not think he is the least bit funny and they wish he would go back to New York City and maybe take a flying leap off the Empire State Building.

     Uncle Jack hopes he stays in St. Paul and writes another book about Lake Wobegon.





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6:35 a.m.Those clouds look ominous. Actual sunrise is still 10 minutes away but Uncle Jack didn't hang around to see it.

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Looking north toward the Comfort Inn South. No comfort to be found on this beach with the wind blowing out of the northeast at 10-15 knots.

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Miss Isabella Sabatino, Mrs. U.J.'s granddaughter, celebrated her fourth birthday at grandma's house on Thanksgiving Day.

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Her cousin, Joshua Teves from Charleston, S.C. performed both Bach and "Happy Birthday" on his cello. Move over Yo Yo Ma; Joshua is coming.

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Joshua's dad, Christopher Teves, is a superb classical guitarist who has performed in many more impressive venues than Uncle Jack's livingroom, including Lincoln Center in NYC.

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A rapt audience listens while Joshua plays Bach.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:58 AM

Comments [4]

Friday, November 23, 2007
Unrise in Sonag, Friday November 23, 2007

     Uncle Jack is not ashamed to admit that he slept in this morning. A severe attack of heartburn in the middle of the night (no doubt brought on by the piece of dark chocolate cake and the slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream with which he topped off the mammoth plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, asparagus, carrots and gravy he had demolished a few minutes earlier) seriously interrupted his sleep.

    It was just as well that he slept past his usual wake-up time of 6 a.m. because the sun did not show this morning and the wind is blowing 25 knots out of the north and making the beach uninhabitable anyway.

      The sunrise pictured below is from Uncle Jack's sunrise DVD (105 of his most striking sunrise photos on one disk) of which he still has a few copies left if you're looking for a good stocking stuffer.  Just send him $10 at Box 554, Nags Head, N.C. 27959 and he will be happy to send you a copy toot sweet.

     For those readers who enjoy a good "deja vu" experience now and then you might want to click on the link (below) to an article about the Palm Beach, Florida beach erosion referendum which is coming up soon.  Any resemblance between Palm Beach and Nags Head is purely coincidental. (Or is it?)

       Uncle Jack will eschew shopping today in favor of sitting in his barcalounger and reading his anniversary gift from Mrs. U.J.----a copy of Garrison Keillor's most recent Lake Wobegon saga, called "Pontoon". An altogether salubrious way to spend "Black Friday" if you ask him. 

      Have a great day.

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August sunrise from Uncle Jack's DVD.

link: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/content/news/REFERENDUM1123.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:08 AM

Comments [2]

Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thanksgiving sunrise, Thursday November 22, 2007

     What a difference a year makes.  Those who were here at Thanksgiving last year will remember the great storm that descended on the Outer Banks the day before Thanksgiving and made a terrible mess.  You can relive the whole thing by going to Uncle Jack's archives for November of 2006 and scrolling through several days' entries before, during and after Thanksgiving Day.  If it does rain later today as predicted it will seem as nothing compared to last year's hurley burley.

     Thanksgiving is always a very special time for Uncle Jack because he and Mrs. U.J. got hitched on Thanksgiving Day---thirteen years ago to be exact.  He is so thankful for Mrs. U.J. that he doesn't even mind that she invited twelve of her relatives over to celebrate with us. Happy Thanksgiving from both of us.

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6:30 a.m. Uncle Jack was so intent on taking this picture that he didn't see the wave that promptly sloshed him up to his knees.

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They went for a stroll down around Seagull Drive yesterday afternoon. Just missed the first bulldozer of the fall season. The tracks were still fresh.

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These willets found something to their liking in the tracks.

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Birds of a feather.....

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The ghost of sandbags past. These are remnants of the bags that once fronted the celebrated "KooKoo's Nest" before it was moved to a safer location. Pretty.

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The CRC has its work cut out for it. This is the southernmost house on Seagull Drive.

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Uncle Jack got his teeth cleaned yesterday in preparation for Thanksgiving. These Hitchcockian birds threatened him in Dr. Ausband's parking lot.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:55 AM

Comments [19]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday Nov. 21, 2007

      It's another beautiful day in South Nags Head.  The sunrise was not spectacular but it happened and that's a good in the great scheme of things.

      Uncle Jack made a short video of the surf as it was behaving just before sunrise.  You can see and hear it by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.

       And now it's time to get to work.  With twelve guests coming to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow there is not a moment to lose.  Now where did Uncle Jack put that vacuum cleaner last year.....

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6:30 a.m.

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6:45 This was as good as it got this morning.

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Fort Comfort's barricades held up well against Noel's buffeting.

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It will take a severe northeaster to dislodge these massive bags. Can the CRC do it?

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These condos lost half their trucked-in dune to Noel but the stairway survived intact. A never-ending battle.

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"Ocean Palms" (formerly Bodie Island Beach Club) has mounted a massive sandbag defense against anything Mother Nature might have in mind this winter.

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Lots of surfers out yesterday afternoon. Uncle Jack thought he had nailed this one but it turned out fuzzy. Sigh.

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Yet another non-functional walkway, this one just north of the Comfort Inn.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuK1VHNrchI

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:58 AM

Comments [5]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunrises in Sonag, Tuesday November 20, 2007

     This could have been called "the morning of a dozen sunrises" as the sun worked its way up through layers of clouds and mist, presenting a different aspect every couple of minutes.  Fog is rolling in from all directions but it will probably burn off as the sun gets higher in the sky.  Should be another glorious day with temperatures in the high 60's by noon.

     Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. couldn't go walking until late yesterday afternoon by which time the wind had picked up, the temperature had dropped significantly and the surf was much rougher than earlier in the day.  They walked the mile from Whitecap street down to the O.B. pier with the wind at their backs and returned via the magnificent South Nags Head Multi-use Pedestrian Facility which offers some protection from a north wind. It was invigorating to say the least.

     Only one reader took a shot at identifying yesterday's mystery creature but Uncle Jack remains unconvinced. They are all gone this morning, probably not to return.


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6:30 a.m. Blah.

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6:40 Peek-a-boo.

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This looks like a Turner Uncle Jack saw at the Tate Gallery in London a few years ago.

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At this point Uncle Jack's camera battery went dead.

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These guys were heading north at 5 p.m. yesterday. Who knows why.

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What dunes?

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Where did all that sand go, one wonders.

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Mother Nature did a clean sweepdown last night. Great for walking this morning.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:06 AM

Comments [8]

Monday, November 19, 2007
Sonag sunrise, Monday November 19, 2007

     What looks like another spectacular fall day on the Outer Banks has dawned. Lucky are the folks who are able to spend the entire week of Thanksgiving here because the weather people are predicting more of the same all the way through Thursday.

      Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. strolled the beach in the 19-21 milepost area yesterday afternoon.  This includes the section fronting the late Surfside Drive and the area just north of it which could be called "Sandbag City" at this point as the pictures suggest.

     The beach in that area was littered with round, translucent, parchment-like objects of a kind Uncle Jack has never seen before.  He has no clue as to what they might be (or might have been) and he is hoping the pictures below will enable one of the polymaths among his readers to tell him what they are (or were).  Some kind of denizen of the deep no doubt.

     It looks like today will be another fine day for beachwalking.  Who knows what Mother Nature will discard on the next tide.

     The Charlotte Observer had an informative piece on the erosion situation on Figure Eight island near Wilmington the other day.  You can check it out by clicking on the link below the pictures.  Very interesting reading.


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6:30 a.m. Not too promising.

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6:50 a.m. That's better.

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Mystery disk in situ.

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Close-up showing tendrils. One of them had a couple of barnacles clinging to it. Most had patterns etched into the surface. Anybody?

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Sitting in the bleachers.

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Who's going to tell the owners of these sandbags that they have to be removed before May 1?

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The beach in front of the former Surfside Drive is looking good. This would be a good time for the town to make one more pass with a frontloader and dumptruck to get rid of the remaining hazards that Noel exposed.

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A typical scene in Sonag yesterday afternoon. Nobody seemed to be catching any fish but they didn't seem too upset about it.

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It's a guy thing, apparently.

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Another form of brinksmanship.

link: http://www.charlotte.com/politics/story/368026.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:50 AM

Comments [12]

Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sonag sunrise, Sunday November 18, 2007
     Another windless, sunny magnificent morning in South Nags Head---a carbon copy of yesterday which could hardly be improved upon.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took a long, leisurely walk on the beach from James Street north to the Outer Banks pier and back and took a few pictures along the way. Look for another part of the beach tomorrow.

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6:30 a.m. this morning. Still a few pelicans around but they don't show up too well in this picture.

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6:30, looking south toward the Outer Banks pier.

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6:45. The sun climbs over the clouds at last.

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One way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-November.

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And here's another.

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This exposed septic tank is one of South Nags Head's prime tourist attractions. Apparently it is invisible to the health department or whoever it is that's supposed to deal with stuff like this.

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Repairing stairways must grow wearisome after a while.

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This one was built to last but it looks like it would be a lot easier to walk under it to get to the beach.

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Yet another way to spend a sunny afternoon in mid-November---take your board for a walk.

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This house seems to get a little closer to the surf line with each passing year. Looks a little like what the tort lawyers call an "attractive nuisance" at this point.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:40 AM

Comments [4]

Saturday, November 17, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday November 17, 2007

     It's a glorious morning in South Nags Head.  No wind.  Lots of sunshine. A great day for beachwalking.

      Yesterday was something else. Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. were not about to brave the wind and blowing sand so they took a drive up the beach road to Duck just to see what was going on.  What they found is that at least a few developers are bravely going forward with major condominium developments in the face of the general downturn in real estate activity on the Outer Banks. 

      "First Flight Retreat" on the site of the old First Flight hotel in KDH appears to be well on the way toward completion by next summer.  An artist's rendering puts it smack up against the frontal dune where it seems to be daring Mother Nature to take her best shot. It's a big, three-story building so the "retreat" in the name doesn't seem to have anything to do with moving back at some point in the globally warming future.

     Old timers will remember that the "Croatan Surf Club" replaces the venerable Croatan Inn which later morphed into Papagayo's restaurant and still later into Quagmire's popular eatery and drinkery.  Concrete pilings are in for what appears to be a very large building with all kinds of amenities with units starting at a mere $549,990.

    Meanwhile back in Sonag the battered old Bodie Island Beach Club, a former timeshare, is getting a new lease on life (however brief it may turn out to be) and is returning to the market as the Ocean Palms Oceanfront Condominium.  The buildings sport a new coat of Florida-style pastel paint and a dozen palm trees have sprouted around the parking lot so it looks right at home in the new South Nags Head. Those familiar with this building's history might have suggested "The Caveat Emptor" as an appropriate name for the new venture but Uncle Jack has to admit that "Ocean Palms" has a nice ring to it.   

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6:30 a.m.

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Ten minutes later.

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The welcoming committee.

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Willets at work.

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First Flight Retreat is moving forward.

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How deep are my pilings, how high is the sea....? "Croatan Surf Club" sounds almost prophetic in the light of global warming.

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Nothing like a nice coat of paint and a few palm trees to take one's eyes off the sandbags out in front.

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Nice sign.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:58 AM

Comments [5]

Friday, November 16, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday November 16, 2007

     Uncle Jack got to the beach this morning before the sun rose but he didn't hang around long enough to actually watch it come up.  He decided before he was halfway there that the icy wind was not conducive to his already shaky health so he took two quick pictures and beat it.  No harm done as far as he can tell.

One good thing, perhaps the only good thing, about Uncle Jack’s recent confinement is that he made some serious inroads into the pile of miscellaneous mail that piled up during his lengthy sojourn in Maine this summer. Most of it didn’t take long because it went directly into the trash without opening---offers of new credit cards for example, of which there were at least twenty. Some of it was enticing enough to make him tear open the envelope before tossing it. And then there were the bulletins, magazines, leaflets, solicitations and offers of every kind which pour in an unending stream from the overheated presses of the AARP.

Uncle Jack has been a member of AARP for over twenty five years now and during that time he has received enough printed material from that hyperactive organization to fill a container ship. Most of it, like the credit card entreaties, goes unread into his wastebasket but for some reason he feels compelled to thumb through, if not actually read, the AARP Journal, a once-slender but now hefty glossy that often resembles a dwarf version of Cosmopolitan or Vanity Fair. The Journal is AARP’s gift to the geriatric industry, providing a perfect venue for shilling every kind of nostrum and gadget that might bring geriatric sufferers relief from all the many ills that flesh is heir to---everything from liver spots to macular degeneration to gimpy knees. The older he gets the harder it is for Uncle Jack to enjoy the AARP Journal as he realizes that all those ads are meant for him. Reading about how Morgan Freeman still flies his own jet at the age of 70 is no longer inspiring enough to overcome the depressing weight of all those plugs for stair climbers, electric go-karts, magnifiers, and walk-in bathtubs.

Maybe it’s time for him to renew his Playboy subscription. Does Hugh Hefner read the AARP Journal he wonders?

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6:40 The sun is behind those clouds but Uncle Jack wisely decided not to wait for it to show.

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Cold, windswept and empty. Not even the pigeons were out this morning.

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Yesterday's twelve-hour rain filled the potholes on Whitecap street.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:02 AM

Comments [6]

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday November 15, 2007

     Uncle Jack is pleased to report that he finally got to the beach to take a picture of the sunrise this morning.  It didn't amount to much as sunrises go but it was good to see all his morning beachwalking buddies again after almost six months away.

     The beach is wide and flat and showing many signs of the recent passage of Hurricane Noel.  Most of the bulldozed faux dunes of last spring have vanished again so the rites of Sysiphus, South Nags Head style, will no doubt resume soon.  The northeasters of winter will be arriving before we know it. Whoopee.


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6:45 a.m. There's a sun behind those clouds presumably.

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6:55. Ah yes. Hard to believe that later today the wind will be gusting to 40 and the rain will be torrential. That's what the weatherman say.

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The local pigeon family has grown exponentially in the past few months. At this rate there won't be room for gulls in a couple of years. Hobson's choice if you ask Uncle Jack.

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Jada has packed on about 30 pounds since Uncle Jack last saw her. She was in her element this morning after the long, hot summer.

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The usual suspects doing their things. Breeze the terrier is a celebrity on YouTube. Uncle Jack's short video of her digging for crabs last year has been viewed more than 10,000 times. See it by clicking on the YouTube link below.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SodIVr5p7A

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:17 AM

Comments [9]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Still no sunrise. Tuesday November 13, 2007

     The parlous state of Uncle Jack's health prevented him from trudging up to the beach at dawn but he did make an obligatory trip to Manteo later in the day and took a few pictures of new buildings that have popped up during his long absence.  He is pleased to report that he is healing rapidly and is quite optimistic about seeing tomorrow's sunrise with his own eyes. 

     He forgot to mention that the good citizens of Camden last Tuesday voted against the proposal by Wayfarer Marine to convert four waterfront acres, now used for boat storage, into a condominium development.  The vote was about two to one against in spite of a massive propaganda barrage by the company in the weeks running up to the election.  You can fool some of the people some of the time.....

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The new ABC store in Manteo. Anybody know what's in that tower?

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Topers will remember the old one. You can bet the new one cost a heck of a lot more to build which is certainly in keeping with the edifice complex currently gripping our commissioners.

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Not many counties could afford an administration building like this. Uncle Jack's bosom swells with pride.

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The magnificent new Lone Cedar restaurant. Anybody remember Daniels Cafe that stood here in the "old days"?

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A badly needed new complex of shops and townhouses is going up next to Griggs Lumber in Manteo.

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The latest, but probably not the last, Wings store in Nags Head which now has four if Uncle Jack has counted correctly.

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Meanwhile, back in his own backyard--literally--a new "son of porta-potty" has sprung up. For only $540,000 you could buy it and live next door to Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. They're gone half the time, though, so it's not much incentive.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:48 PM

Comments [16]

Monday, November 12, 2007
Tale of woe. Monday November 12, 2007

     Uncle Jack has been home for three days now and he still hasn't been up to the beach.  His long walk on a cold, windy beach in Seaside Park, N.J. last week brought on a cold which developed into bronchitis which he is still fighting. He apologizes to all those readers who have been searching in vain for a fresh Sonag sunrise and he hopes that maybe by tomorrow he will be able to produce one---with an assist from Mother Nature, of course.

    Enjoy the long weekend.


posted by Uncle Jack at 10:59 AM

Comments [10]

Friday, November 9, 2007
Sunset over Barnegat Bay, Friday Nov. 9, 2007

      Uncle Jack made a slight miscalculation regarding his arrival time in Nags Head so there won't be a "sunrise in Sonag" quite yet.  Maybe Saturday morning if all goes well. The best he could do this morning was last night's sunset taken from the soundside in Seaside Park, N.J. where he and Mrs. U.J. visited friends for the past couple of days.

     They are in Rehoboth Beach this Friday morning whence they will wend their way down routes 1, 50, 113, 13, 64, 168, and 158, each in its turn, to Sonag today.  Here are a few pictures from along the way.

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Swinging Baltimore, starring Sophia and Isabella, under the direction of Grandma.

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Barnegat Bay sunset.

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It's not Hatteras but it's nice. This is Island Beach State Park, one of the great amenities of the Jersey Shore---ten miles of pristine, undeveloped beach and soundfront.

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An icy wind on Thursday did not deter all the striper chasers.

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We walked two miles from the parking lot down to Barnegat Inlet and two miles back. It nearly did Uncle Jack in but it was worth the effort to see Barnegat Light again.

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Uncle Jack was surprised to see sandpipers flitting about among the washed up shells. Can you spot one?

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A Rehoboth Beach boardwalk landmark----closed for the season like nearly everything else.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:16 AM

Comments [9]

Monday, November 5, 2007
On the road. Monday November 5, 2007

Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. have fetched up briefly in Baltimore on their way back to Nags Head and he finds himself with time on his hands and a wireless broadband connection sufficient for a quick progress report. They left Camden on Thursday---a couple of hours late after packing and unpacking the Mini several times while trying to decide what had to be left behind. (Mini has many virtues but capacity is not one of them).

They spent Friday night and Saturday exploring Portland which they found to be an altogether agreeable small city, possessed of much charm and beauty and many amenities seldom found in a town of only 50,000 people. The waterfront area has been pulled back from the brink of total decay and now houses many exceptional restaurants, shops, and hotels along its cobblestoned streets. They dined with friends Friday night at the Fore Street Restaurant which is generally considered one of Portland’s finest---located in a restored armory building and replete with exposed beams and brick which reflect and amplify the roar of hundreds of happy diners, all shouting to be heard over the racket emanating from the “see-in” kitchen. (Very reminiscent of Emeril’s in New Orleans in this respect and equally overpriced).

Uncle Jack ordered “lamb shanks” from a menu offering numerous obscure animal parts which now seem to be de rigueur in restaurants which strive for recognition from the culinary cognoscenti. (Why throw the odd bits away when you can get some fool like Uncle Jack to pay $25 for them? seems to be the operating principle) On Saturday night they dined at a charming but unpretentious pub called Bull Feeney’s where they washed down excellent plates of fish and chips with draft Guinness at a fraction of the cost of his lamb knuckles. Bull Feeney’s is a keeper.

They spent most of Saturday wandering around in the Portland Art Museum and shaking their heads in wonder that such a small city could support a facility of such quality and distinction. The three connected buildings are fascinating in their own right and the collections, while not eye-popping, are eclectic and interesting. Even the lunchroom is first rate which is something he could not say about the National Gallery in London.

They departed Portland Sunday morning and spent the next several hours sloshing down I-95 through the remnants of Hurricane Noel which arrived in Maine Saturday night and made a big mess before moving on to the Maritime Provinces. Back in Camden many large trees were blown down onto houses, streets and power lines in Uncle Jack’s neighborhood and the plate glass window of French and Brawn’s grocery store downtown blew out. He is hoping their apartment overlooking the harbor escaped unscathed and he is glad they brought in the deck furniture before they left or it may have wound up in another county.

Tomorrow they head for the Jersey coast to visit friends for a couple of days, then home by way of Rehoboth Beach (if it’s still there). They look forward to walking the beach of the new, improved South Nags Head by Thursday.

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Last sunrise in Camden, Thursday Nov. 1.

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Buttoned down harbor. Waiting for Noel.

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Packing the Mini. Last stop was the dump to drop off two yellow bags full of trash and garbage.

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Rainbow over Portland harbor Thursday night.

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A typical building in "Old Town" Portland. Luckily they didn't tear them all down before the city's fortunes improved.

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Sculpture garden in the Portland Art Museum.

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Sardine fishermen at work. Painting by N.C. Wyeth, patriarch of the Wyeth family who spent many summers in Maine.

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Lobsterman, also by N.C.

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Sunset over a mall parking lot in East Brunswick, N.J. Do not ever go there if you can possibly avoid it.

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. walked by this house on Bayview Street almost every day. Noel left a calling card.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:46 AM

Comments [13]

click picture for more
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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