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Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday April 30, 2007

     Lucky are the folks who scheduled their Outer Banks vacations for this week.  This last day of April looks and feels more like mid-July than early spring and the forecast is for more of the same for at least the next couple of days.

    Uncle Jack was unduly pessimistic about yesterday which started out ominously but by noon had turned into lovely day in which to enjoy all manner of beachie activities from bulldozing to blanket-dozing. (See pictures below).  The wide, natural, beautiful beaches of South Nags Head were alive with happy visitors for the first time in months.

     Sunrise this morning was not exactly overwhelming but the combination of gentle surf, the occasional dolphin cutting through the glassy surface, flocks of pelicans and cormorants flapping by, seagulls and terns wheeling and squawking---all made for a very pleasant half-hour on the beach at dawn.  The total absence of wind makes today's video as pleasant to listen to as it is to look at.  Click the YouTube link below to see it. 

    Happy Monday to all.

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6:10 a.m.

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A few minutes later.

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This very same sun will warm the local air to 80 degrees before the day is out. Time to start complaining about the heat.

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Sun-loving visitors swarmed the narrow South Nags Head beach on Sunday afternoon.

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Beachgoers in the vicinity of the Comfort Inn were entertained by a variety of earth-moving vehicles all day on Sunday. Covering up sandbags seemed to be the chief work in progress.

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Now you see them, now you don't. (Until the next northeaster).

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A giant front-loader cleared the hitherto vacant lot next door on Saturday. Longtime readers will recognize "Son of Porta Potty" looming in the background.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-Hq6IrXsLI

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:50 AM

Comments [8]

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday April 29, 2007

     The penultimate day of April started out  nicely enough but has gone rapidly down hill.  The sun showed itself briefly at 6:15 but two hours later it has disappeared behind thick clouds that cover the entire sky, some of which look positively ominous. Uncle Jack would not like to be riding his Harley back to Richmond or Raleigh or wherever this afternoon.  A brisk wind out of the north will no doubt keep most visitors off the beach, too.  Uncle Jack plans to stay inside with his New York Times, the reading of which he will no doubt interrupt with a nice, long nap at some point.  Two of the minor joys of retirement.

     He made a short video of this morning's sunrise which is viewable by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.  Unfortunately it does not include a leap clear out of the water by a passing dolphin which happened while he was aiming elsewhere.  No Emmy award this week.

     Have a swell day.  Tomorrow is Monday, remember.


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6:10 a.m.

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A few minutes later.

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As usual the dogs outnumber the people. Due to overcrowding and the proliferation of visitors' pooches leashes will soon have to be put to use instead of just carried. Notice the return of winter garb this morning.

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The wind switched abruptly from southwest to northeast yesterday noon engulfing this jolly group of beachgoers in fog.

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Every one of the 105 sunrise photos on Uncle Jack's DVD is even prettier than this one, taken this morning. Make your Mom the happiest woman in the world by giving her a copy for Mother's Day. Send $9.99 to Uncle Jack at Box 554, Nags Head, 27959

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wsk8552qCs

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:34 AM

Comments [1]

Saturday, April 28, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday April 28, 2007

     With the aid of numerous over-the-counter pharmaceuticals including generic Claritin, Nyquil and aspirin (washed down with copious quantities of tea and water) Uncle Jack has recovered sufficiently from his cold to get to the beach this morning.  The sunrise was something less than spectacular but it was spiritually uplifting nonetheless.  He made a short video which can be viewed by clicking the YouTube link below.

     It looks like another splendid day for our thousands of biker visitors to tool up and down the bypass and the beach road with their mufflers wide open as is their wont.  He hopes they will find it sufficiently boring around here that perhaps next year they will choose to congregate in a more exciting place like Engelhard or Swan Quarter where they could ride the ferry back and forth to Ocracoke when they got tired of riding.

     Have a great weekend. 

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6:10 a.m. It won't be long and the sun will be appearing before 6 a.m. That little spot of orange is not the sun but rather a cloud reflecting sunlight.

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Ten minutes later the sun has climbed over the cloudbank on the horizon.

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This is as good as it got this morning.

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Blog reader Steve Thomas sent along these pictures of entries in a sandcastle contest out in British Columbia. They remind Uncle Jack of the ice sculpture contest in St. Paul, Minnsota every winter. Mind-boggling.

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Sandcastle number 2.

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Google "Harrison Hot Springs" for further info about the sandcastle contest.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBOVHFbyG2M

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:55 AM

Comments [7]

Friday, April 27, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday April 27, 2007

      Uncle Jack is pleased to report that his condition is greatly improved this morning.  Nevertheless he decided to let discretion be the better part of valor so he stayed in bed rather than expose his delicate respiratory system to the chilly vapors of dawn. (He fully expects to resume his quotidian duties on the morrow).  He can tell you, however, that it is already sunny and warm in Nags Head and is likely to remain so right through the weekend with only a chance of showers this afternoon.

     In one sense this is not good news because it means that the tens of thousands of motorcycles that will descend on the Outer Banks this weekend will spend much of their time cruising up and down the bypass and the beach road instead of holed up in the local bars.  The avant garde began to arrive earlier in the week and their numbers have already swelled to the point that an unmuffled Harley roared past Uncle Jack's house in usually peaceful South Nags Head about once every ten seconds all day yesterday.

     No doubt this invasion will gladden the hearts and pocketbooks of at least some Outer Banks merchants (the many purveyors of liquid refreshments and fast food come immediately to mind) but not without cost to lovers of peace and quiet who have hoped in vain that the "hogs" would continue to belly up to their more customary troughs in the advanced seaside resorts such as Myrtle Beach and leave the Outer Banks alone.

     This, too, shall pass.

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It's not too late to delight your mom by sending her a copy of Uncle Jack's sunrise DVD for Mother's Day. Send a check for $9.99 to Uncle Jack, Box 554, Nags Head 27959 and he will put one in the mail immediately, postpaid.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:10 AM

Comments [8]

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Sonag Sunrise, Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Uncle Jack regrets to report that he did not make it to the beach at sunrise this morning because he has acquired a nasty cold.  Either that or his entire respiratory system has succumbed to the relentless assault of all manner of flying pollen both in Williamsburg and in South Nags Head.  Every surface in both places is covered with yellow dust and apparently his lungs and nasal passages are as well.  With the aid of various nostrums (Claritin, etc.) he hopes to be functioning again by tomorrow morning.

     This forced period of inactivity will make it possible for him to finish the magnificent novel by Anthony Trollope that he has been working on for the past three weeks.  It's called "The Way We Live Now" and it has hooked Uncle Jack on Trollope to the point where he bought four more of his novels in New Orleans last week for future delectation.  Maybe if he gets lucky his cold will linger on indefinitely.

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The perfect gift for every mother who loves the Outer Banks. 105 glorious sunrise photos by Uncle Jack on DVD. Send a check for $9.99 to Uncle Jack at Box 554, Nags Head, NC 27959 for free, quick delivery. She will love you for it.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:38 AM

Comments [6]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday April 25, 2007

     Yesterday turned out to be everything Uncle Jack hoped it would be and it looks like today will bring more of the same.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. strolled the mile up to the Comfort Inn in light summer attire yesterday afternoon and plan to do it again later today if the predicted showers hold off long enough.  It is truly a grand time to be on the Outer Banks, especially if you don't have to work for a living. (He wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much if he had to spend the day filling sandbags).

    In the absence of any hot, breaking news from the 'hood Uncle Jack has retrieved this oldie from the archives to peruse if you really get desperate for something to read during the afternoon doldrums:

                                         Social Notes

                                        From the Mainland

Mrs. Carter Fry hosted the Grumpy Harbor Ladies Literary Society at her home on Route 6 last Thursday. Luncheon was served followed by election of officers and a dramatic reading by Mrs. Otho Scramm of selections from the current best-selling novel "Hot Mountain". Mrs. Delmore Wiggett fainted during the reading and had to be rushed to the clinic in Manteo where she remained in intensive care for several hours.

Mr. Carter Fry went to Plymouth on Thursday and has not returned.

Miss LuWanda Crammitt, daughter of Mrs. Opal Crammitt of Clamflats, has a speaking part in a new feature film entitled "Debbie Does Amsterdam," the latest release in the highly acclaimed "Debbie" series of travelogues from Mammary Studios. LuWanda, who is known professionally as Debbie Craven, is employed as a masseuse in Los Angeles, California while pursuing her acting career. She was a l992 graduate of Thassamusketo High School where she was voted "Most Likely To" by the boys of the senior class.

Mr. Albert Zebulon, manager of the Grumpy Harbor 6-l2 convenience store was in Nags Head last week attending an Executive Training Conference at the Ramada Inn. More than 300 managers of 6-l2 stores in the three-county Eastern Swamps Division attended the meeting which focused on helping convenience store managers cope with inflation. Mr. Zebulon attended seminars on "How to Squeeze 50 Extra Cups from Each Pound of Coffee," "Save $$$ by Recycling Used Stirring Sticks" and "Creative Bookkeeping".

Mrs. Estelle Jones went to the HMO in Columbia on Monday to have her corns pared.

Billy Frank Weddle, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Joe Weddle of Drainfield, was home last week on a three-day pass from the East Carolina Correctional Center in Clam Quarter where he recently starred in an inmate production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino".

Mrs. Greb Fillett and Mrs. Nettie Clayford drove to Norfolk on Wednesday in Mrs. Clayford's new Ford Siesta with optional overdrive. They got 43.6 miles to the gallon according to Mrs. Clayford's daughter Lula who is home on vacation from Central Junior Bible College in Charlotte where she is majoring in long division.

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6:10 a.m. Lots of clouds on the horizon.

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6:20. First sight.

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Who needs a hydrant? Teddie, Daisy, Breeze, Jada and Sally can all do their thing at the same time.

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Another defunct fish, tentatively identified as a spot.

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The Comfort Inn South is getting a new set of sandbags to go with its new deck. According to current CAMA regulations they will have to be removed in two years. Presumably a flock of pigs will fly in and carry them off.

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Audrey directs traffic while attempting to return the deceased fish to a watery grave.

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Archaeologists might be interested in these "temporary" bags recently unearthed.

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There's a condo development behind this mountain of trucked-in sand. Visitors this summer may wish to bring their own rappelling gear.

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The gap in the berm in front of this condo next door to the Bodie Island Beach Club was filled yesterday. Another rappelling situation.

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What to give Mom for Mother's Day that will show beyond a doubt that you love and appreciate her? Easy. It's a copy of Uncle Jack's sunrise DVD. Send your check for $9.99 to Uncle Jack, Box 554, Nags Head, NC 27959 right away for quick free delivery.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:27 AM

Comments [7]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday April 24, 2007

     Uncle Jack's heart goes out to all those unfortunate persons who cannot be on the Outer Banks today.  It's going to be another magnificent spring day with balmy breezes, calm sea and wide, flat beaches to walk on or fish from---everything a person could want in August at April prices.

     He and Mrs. U.J. missed another day just like it yesterday while they were strolling around  Williamsburg and Jamestown.  It was a trip down memory lane for Uncle Jack because 50 years ago this week he visited Jamestown for the first time on the occasion of its 350th anniversary.  He was teaching Virginia history to  seventh graders at Green Springs elementary school in Louisa County at the time and a field trip to Jamestown seemed like just the ticket.  Uncle Jack drove the school bus and a good time was had by all with the  exception of Uncle Jack for whom it was a life-altering experience. Any thoughts he had ever had about becoming a school bus driver vanished on that trip.

     It's now the 400th anniversary of the first settlement at Jamestown and he can tell you it is worth a visit if you haven't been there for a while.  There is a magnificent new museum full of displays and artifacts, a reconstructed Indian village as well as a replica of the fort and newly built replicas of the three tiny sailing ships that brought the first settlers across the Atlantic.   Colonial Williamsburg has overshadowed Jamestown as a tourist destination for many years but it's no longer possible to "do" Jamestown in an hour on the way home. 

      Taking the free ferry across the James from Jamestown to Scotland was an additional treat.  It was a delightfully bucolic alternative to to the madness of I-64 through Newport News and Norfolk and took no longer.  Highly recommended either going or coming from the Outer Banks.  

    Go for it before the madness begins.

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6:20 a.m. Already 60 degrees and no wind.

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The first sunrise occurred a few moments later.

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And the second a few minutes after that.

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Looking north from Whitecap Street. The beach is freakishly wide right now. A good time to sell oceanfront property to the unwary.

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The golf course at the Williamsburg Inn as seen from the breakfast patio. Every tree, flower and shrub is in bloom right now and wreaking havoc on sensitive respiratory tracts.

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There were several lambs in the sheep pen but Uncle Jack couldn't get one to stand still long enough to pose for a picture. It had to be ewe.

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This distant cousin of the MINI was parked in the driveway of the Inn and was joined later by two others. Apparently there was an MG gathering somewhere in the vicinity.

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This replica of the pinnace Discovery was built in Rockport, Maine last year about a mile from where we will be staying this summer in Camden.

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All three ships were being prepared to sail today to Virginia Beach for a re-creation of the first landing of the settlers at Cape Henry in April 1607. All are equipped with diesel engines (D-sails) in case the wind fails to cooperate.

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Part of the reconstructed Indian village. Except for the lack of firearms the native culture was considerably more advanced than that of the settlers. In the end the guns won out.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:25 AM

Comments [8]

Sunday, April 22, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday April 22, 2007

It looks like today will be pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday. The sun rose uneventfully at the appointed time of 6:20 into a cloudless sky and is predicted to produce temperatures in the low 70’s later. A great day to be alive and on the Outer Banks. (Uncle Jack hopes it will be a great day to be in Williamsburg, too, because that’s where he and Mrs. U.J. will be tonight and tomorrow. His next blog probably won’t appear until Tuesday morning).

He went for a stroll in the Surfside Drive area this morning and discovered that the recent heavy surf has uncovered a new lode of detritus in that unfortunate area. Electrical wires, chunks of broken concrete, tattered remains of sandbags and rusting water pipes litter the area where hordes of visitors will soon be spreading their blankets on the newly widened beach. Perhaps the Town could get a grant from the Visitors Bureau to tidy up a bit over there so the visitors will want to come back in future years.

Uncle Jack made a short video this morning but it turned out to be almost exactly like yesterday’s so if you need a fix you might want to take another look at that one again.

Ciao until Tuesday.

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6:15 a.m.

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Looking south from James Street.

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Looking north from James Street near the 19 milepost in South Nags Head.

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A bulldozer covered these sandbags a week or so ago but Mother Nature uncovered them again a few days later. This battle has been going on for years.

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The Town cleaned up most of its mess at Surfside Drive a few weeks ago but it looks like there is more to be done.

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The "Great Wall of Sandbags" erected by the Town several years ago is gone but the memory lingers on in the form of tattered bags littering the shore.

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One can only hope that this and many other wires protruding from the sand are not live. They're dangerous enough without electricity in them.

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Perhaps this pipe could be converted into a water fountain on the beach.

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Meanwhile, in the private sector, the Comfort Inn's new deck is well on the way to completion. "No Diving from Deck" signs have no doubt been ordered.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:15 AM

Comments [21]

Saturday, April 21, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday April 21, 2007

      Uncle Jack confesses that he had to drag himself out of bed and up to the beach at 6 this morning.  The slothful habits he acquired during his week in the Big Easy have been hard to shake off.  One glimpse of the ocean was enough to pull him out of his malaise, however, and he thinks he will be back in the groove by tomorrow morning.

     It's still chilly on the Outer Banks at dawn but a warming trend is underway that should send people out of the malls and onto the beaches in droves by this afternoon.  The sky is cloudless and the wind slight but the surf is still fairly wild in the wake of the storm he missed earlier in the week.  He made a short video of the sun rising over the foamy combers which can be viewed by clicking the YouTube link below. Pretty.

     As the pictures suggest the beach is wide, flat and clean after the storm.  Mother Nature has done a thorough clean-up and has moved a fair amount of bulldozed sand back onto the foreshore where it belongs. Great for the walking which Uncle Jack intends to do this afternoon.

    The less said about his performance in the basketball shooting division of the Senior Games yesterday the better.  Abysmal is the word that comes to mind for he made only seven of the prescribed 18 shots.  ("choke" is another). Even the fact that he is guaranteed a medal for finishing third (in a field of three) is no consolation.  He will approach the NBA playoffs which begin today with heightened appreciation for the shooting skills of the participants.  Perhaps they aren't as overpaid as he thought they were.

     Enjoy the weekend.

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6:15 a.m. Nary a cloud in the sky.

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6:22 a.m. Right on time and earlier every day for the next two months.

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This house at the end of Harvest Street, badly banged up by the Thanksgiving storm, is getting a new lease on life. Life on the edge.

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This is what it looked like right after the storm.

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Mother Nature is no respecter of bulldozed dunes.

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Jada the malamute pup has grown a few more inches since Uncle Jack last saw her. She is growing into her feet at a rapid pace.

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Pictorial proof that Uncle Jack made at least one shot yesterday. Excellent camera work by his personal photographer, Mrs. U.J.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAk4qvmiAyU

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:15 AM

Comments [3]

Friday, April 20, 2007
We Be Home, Friday April 20, 2007

     Uncle Jack is happy to report that he and Mrs. U.J. have returned safely from their annual seven-day debauch in the Big Easy.  This year's French Quarter Festival was the best ever in spite of the parlous state of the city and their ears are still ringing with  wonderful jazz. The food, too, seemed better than ever in spite of the fact that half the restaurants in business before Katrina are still closed 20 months later.  They totally eschewed their usual "heart healthy" diet in favor of heart-stoppingly delicious New Orleans delights like crawfish crepes, oyster po'boys, muffuletta sandwiches, beignets buried in powdered sugar, bourbon-laced bread pudding, and seafood gumbo---too often accompanied by sweetened iced tea and/or Abita Amber beer.

      That is the good news.  The bad news is that he gained five pounds that he knows will take him a lot longer than a week to get rid of.  The other bad news is that after a week of staying up late and sleeping even later he missed this morning's sunrise by at least an hour.  He will try to do better tomorrow---in every way.

     Perhaps the worst news of all is that he inadvertently erased all the priceless pictures and videos  he took during the past week while attempting to download them into his desktop last night.  The worst part of this debacle is that he did it himself. He can't blame it on the Sony Corporation or Michael Dell or Charter Communications or the Nags Head Board of Commissioners.  Sigh.

     Hopefully he will manage to shake off this latest manifestation of  incompetence when he takes the court in Kill Devil Hills this afternoon to test his basketball-shooting prowess against the rest of the doddering 75-79 year-old cohort who have signed up for this year's Senior Games.  Unfortunately the event is scheduled to begin at precisely the time he usually takes his nap so he hopes Mrs. Uncle Jack can keep him awake and point him in the right direction.  Pictures at 11 if he doesn't screw up the camera again.   


posted by Uncle Jack at 8:19 AM

Comments [12]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday April 11, 2007

     Uncle Jack got a true taste of what "wind chill factor" means when he reached the beach this morning at 6:30.  According to the weather people the actual temperature was 54 F but the wind-driven air that smote his sinuses felt more like 20 below zero so he took one picture, turned around and allowed himself to be propelled back down Whitecap street like an abandoned beach ball.

    Escaping the current cold wave was not his aim when he made his reservations in New Orleans a year ago for this year's French Quarter Festival. The music, the food and the ambience of the Vieux Carre are more than enough to lure him to that beleagured city any time but the promise of temperatures in the 80's during his entire stay is "lagniappe" as they say in the Big Easy. He and Mrs. U.J. will leave very early Thursday morning and may be without internet connectivity for several days so he knows not when he will post another blog entry.  In any case he doubts they will be watching the sun rise in NOLA where going to bed before the wee hours is frowned upon---especially during festivals like FQF.

     They will be in New Orleans on the 17th so they went over to the Board of Elections office  to cast their absentee ballots yesterday.  It was worth the trip to Manteo just to see and use the fantastic electronic voting machines they have over there. It took him a while to figure out how to vote "No" but it was so much fun he could have stayed over there and done it all day long.  He knows that would have been illegal and unethical but what the heck.  At least he lives in Nags Head and that's probably more than some voters will be able to say truthfully.

     In any case next week's referendum will mark a very important turning point in the history of the Outer Banks and he hopes that every eligible voter will take part in the decision.  The pre-referendum propaganda blitz has been overwhelmingly one-sided but Uncle Jack would like to believe that most Nags Head voters will not allow themselves to be frightened into a foolish decision.




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6:30 a.m. The sun came up a while later but Uncle Jack was not around to see it. He is going to stay away from Colonel Sanders for a while.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:17 AM

Comments [51]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday April 10, 2007

     It's a bright, sunny day on the Outer Banks but still much too cold for this time of year if you ask   Uncle Jack. He would love to mothball his parka for the season but it's still an essential part of his wardrobe in the early morning.

    The sunrise was a bit puny compared to yesterday's but everything else about dawn on the beach in South Nags Head was well worth getting out of bed for. The beach itself is incredibly wide again and flat enough to race cars on like they do at more advanced resorts like Daytona Beach.  He hopes the folks at the Visitors Bureau don't get any ideas.  Motorcycle weekend is enough excitement for a family resort.

     A large flock of pelicans soared silently by just as he got to the beach so he made a short video of them which should please pelican lovers who have a minute to spare sometime today. Click on the YouTube link below to see it.

     The following link will take you the Outer Banks Sentinel in which an article this week suggests that a number of non-residents of Nags Head may be planning to vote illegally in the forthcoming beach renourishment referendum.  It's hard to imagine how one can "reside" in a house that is already full of renters.  The spirit of Richard Milhous Nixon is alive and well in Nags Head. Read it and weep.



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6:30 a.m.

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A bit ho-hum but probably not for someone who lives where you can't see the sunrise at all, like in a north-facing condo in Weehawken, N.J.

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This critter was too intent on finding breakfast to give much attention to the sunrise.

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Watch them soar on today's one-minute video. That's a gibbous moon up there. Today is the day Uncle Jack googles "gibbous".

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Perhaps the gibbous moon has something to do with the abnormally low tides this week. There's room for another row of cottages right now.

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Uncle Jack's sunrise DVD contains 105 sunrises even prettier than this one. Send your check for $9.99 to Uncle Jack at Box 554, Nags Head, N.C. 27959 and he will rush a copy to you posthaste and postpaid. It's guaranteed to please or your money back.

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

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:21 AM

Comments [19]

Monday, April 9, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday April 9, 2007

    At last a sunrise worth getting out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and braving the cold wind to see.  The pictures can only suggest what it really looked like and so can the short video which you can access by clicking the YouTube link below. This morning's magnificent show was worthy of inclusion in Uncle Jack's next collection of sunrises for sure.  (You can obtain a copy of his current DVD containing 105 spectacular sunrises of the past three years by sending a check for $9.99 to Uncle Jack, Box 554, Nags Head, N.C.  27959.  You'll be glad you did and so will he.)

    He and Mrs. U.J. strolled up to Jennette's pier and back yesterday afternoon.  It was a tad chilly going north against the wind but they were overdressed for the return trip.  As the pictures show there were lots of folks on the beach yesterday doing all kinds of beachy things.  The summer is creeping up on us for sure.


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6:35 a.m.

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Sunrise itself was almost an anticlimax after all the visual foreplay.

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At one point the Comfort Inn South looked like it was ablaze.

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Speaking of the Comfort Inn, the pilings are in place for yet another porch.

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The semi-derelict Bodie Island Beach Club has a brand new sandbag wall. What was it Robert Frost said about walls?

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Uncle Jack was not tempted to mess with this sand construction.

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A retriever doing what he does best. That water is cold.

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Easter Sunday. Uncle Jack hasn't seen so many people on the beach in months.

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Or gulls either for that matter. Thousands of cormorants were on the wing Sunday afternoon, too.

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Lisa and friends (Bailey, Dixie, Daisy, Jada and Breeze---with the ever-present tennis ball in her mouth. It doesn't keep her from barking unfortunately).

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNZvws7ptgo

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:39 AM

Comments [5]

Sunday, April 8, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday April 8, 2007

     Easter Sunday has dawned bright and beautiful albeit a bit chilly on the Outer Banks.  Just seeing the sun again after the incessant cloudiness of the past few days is refreshing. 

     Uncle Jack bundled up against the cold (39 F)and strolled to the beach at sunrise.  He didn't stay long but he did make a short video of the sun rising into the cloudless sky which can be viewed by clicking the YouTube link below the pictures. 

    He got several chuckles out of this column by Mike Thomas which appeared in today's Orlando Sentinel.  It pays to have a sense of humor when you're writing about beach renourishment. 

Sand is the new water in battle over resources

Published April 8, 2007

Just when you thought nothing good can come from global warming, there is this headline in the Palm Beach Post: "Could Global Warming Wipe Out County?''

One certainly hopes so because that would give us another shot at the Scripps Research Institute.

With the seas rising and the hurricanes roaring, it seems Palm Beach juts out into the ocean in such a way as to make it particularly prone to washing away.

This journey to Atlantis could take place within 100 years. You'd have to find the place by looking for Donald Trump's American flag flapping over the waves.

Normally you hear this kind of doomsday rhetoric from Greenpeace. But in this particular case, it comes from Stephen Leatherman, director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University. So it must be true.

Miami might go next, which would be less of a problem because everybody could just move up a floor.

That most of Florida eventually is going under is not new news. The state is a submarine that submerges and surfaces with sea-level changes.

The question is how much our SUVs are speeding up the submerging cycle.

We currently keep the sea out by dredging up sand and silt from the ocean bottom and pumping it on the shoreline. But just like the real beaches before them, the fake ones also wash away. So more sand is needed.

But beach-quality sand is a finite resource. South Florida has used up most of its offshore deposits, actually sparking a sand war last year.

This happened when St. Lucie County discovered that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was snooping around a sand pile about three miles off its coast.

The plan was to park a dredge ship, lay a network of pipes all the way to Miami Beach, and suck out enough sand to fill 25 million dump trucks. Ken Pruitt, president of the Florida Senate, and resident of St. Lucie, called it "almost a criminal act.''

Technically, the sand was not in St. Lucie County. But the uproar caused the Corps to back off.

Now there is a bill in the Legislature that would forbid counties from raiding one another's sand piles unless lawmakers are notified of it. The presumption is that the legislative delegation from the offended county would kill the deal.

It is like counties here fighting over access to cheap water from the aquifer. Sand is the new water.

In some cases, the lack of good sand has caused engineers to turn to silt, which covers much of the ocean floor. It is much finer than traditional sand, meaning it washes away faster, fouls the water and smothers reefs.

The environmental damage has the state on a continuous hunt for the good stuff. One idea is to truck it in from the interior. Another is to barge it in from the Bahamas.

And like oil, engineers are looking for deep-water sand.

There also is Broward County's "Beach Glass Renourishment Project," in which beer bottles and jelly jars are converted to sand.

During spring break, Broward could become sand self-sufficient. Wouldn't some ground-up Heinekens with a Budweiser border make for a beautiful shoreline?

Things have gotten this bad during a time of relatively calm weather and mild rises in sea level.

Now consider an uptick in hurricanes, which can wipe out beaches overnight, and a sea that could be rising three times as fast this century as it did the last one.

Maybe one day the Saudis will have us over a barrel on sand too.

Folks in Broward better drink up.

Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or mthomas@orlandosentinel.com. His blog is at orlandosentinel.com/mikethomas


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6:35 a.m.

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Ten minutes later.

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Lots of wide, flat, clean beach this morning.

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If it warms up a little a walk to the Comfort Inn South and back will be just the ticket for a sunny Easter Sunday afternoon.

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Impromptu Sunrise Service on the beach in South Nags Head. Dogs welcome.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeUbDM35QiM

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:07 AM

Comments [5]

Saturday, April 7, 2007
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday April 7

     At least it isn't snowing.  That's about the only positive thing that can be said about this morning's weather on the Outer Banks.  Icy rain has been falling for hours, the sky is completely overcast with menacing clouds and there is no chance whatsoever of a sunrise picture this morning.  Enough said about that dismal prospect. 

     Uncle Jack will comfort himself with his lovely sunrise DVD while he does his taxes today.  Considering the amount of income he has now that he is totally retired it shouldn't take long.

         He does need to get over to the Y for some intensive practice because he just learned that there is more to the Senior Games basketball shooting contest than just the free throws he has been working on for the past two months. Because of his impending week in New Orleans he has only four days left to practice the other five required shots.  Panic is a powerful motivator.

     Enjoy the weekend wherever you are.


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All the snow in Camden, Maine had melted by last Wednesday. On Thursday more than a foot of the wet, sticky variety fell. It was perfect for snow sculpture and this Easter Bunny was one of them.

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will be spending the summer in Camden. They hope this guy won't be there to greet them in June.

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He can remember when he thought April snowstorms were fun when he was a kid growing up in northern Wisconsin.

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Obviously there is no lack of creativity in Camden.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:50 AM

Comments [8]

Friday, April 6, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday April 6, 2007

     It's cold out there, folks.  Uncle Jack hiked up to the beach this morning with very little enthusiasm and didn't even stay as long as he did yesterday which was not very long.  The sky is full of wintry looking clouds, the wind continues to whistle out of the north and the sea is angry about something.

     It could be angry about the propaganda barrage the voters of Nags Head are suffering at the hands of an apparently very well-heeled group of beach nourishment pushers calling themselves "protect nagshead.org".  Uncle Jack is beginning to wonder who is going to protect the voters from "protectnagshead".

    He received another mailing from them yesterday in the form of a slick 12-page brochure full of half-truths, distortions, exaggerations and sins of omission which seem to be the stock in trade of this organization. 

    The picture on the front of this publication is a good example of their penchant for blatant obfuscation. (See picture below).  It shows the beach in front of Surfside Drive as it looked a year or so ago with sandbags piled in disarray right to the water's edge as well as the ruins of a short-lived, FEMA-financed berm that was constructed shortly after Isabel wiped out most of Surfside Drive itself.

     What the brochure does not reveal is the fact that the mess shown in this picture was the work of the Town of Nags Head which, in a misguided effort to save Surfside Drive from the inevitable, built several sandbag walls paralleling the street, trucked in clay/sand from Currituck county to build faux dunes, and constructed a sub-standard street to replace that which had washed away.

     The irony in all this is that a picture taken today (see below) would show a wide, uncluttered expanse of sand in exactly the same place.  The tattered bags have been removed, the wreckage of the temporary (and it really was temporary) street has been hauled away and the newly revealed beach stands as a tribute to the virtues of "retreat" as an alternative to expensive and ultimately futile efforts to keep the ocean at bay.  The word "retreat" , however, never escapes from the lips of "protectnagshead.org" except as an epithet.

     No doubt the citizens of Nags Head will be subjected to an increasingly shrill and desperate propaganda assault from the pro-nourishment forces in the run-up to April 17.  Watch for full-page newspaper ads and slick television spots.  Then ask yourself, "Who's paying for all this b.s. and why?"  Then remember that it won't cost you a dime to vote "NO" and you'll be doing the intelligent thing when you do.

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6"35 a.m. It looks as cold as it feels.

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The sun made a brief appearance at 6:40 and then disappeared into the clouds again, probably for good.

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Doris and her pack of sled dogs on the way to the Iditarod. (That's what it felt like anyway).

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Another intrepid soul marching into the freezing wind. This is where Uncle Jack peeled off and went home before pneumonia could set in.

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These signs are being installed by D.O.T. at every marked crossing place along the Beach Road. They tell you to yield to pedestrians which is going to take some getting used to for a lot of drivers.

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Photo of Surfside Drive beach on the front of the recent mailing by "protectnagshead.org" It did look like this once until the Town of Nags Head did the sensible thing and retreated before the inexorable power of the ocean.

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The same beach part way through the clean-up. Looks a lot better doesn't it?

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Another view of the same area while cleanup was underway. Mother Nature has since smoothed out the wrinkles. Looks wide enough to hold a few beach blankets?

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:59 AM

Comments [10]

Thursday, April 5, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday April 5, 2007

      Uncle Jack turned off the air conditioner and turned the heat back on before he went to bed last night and it's a good thing he did.  Winter, or something that feels a lot like it, has returned to the Outer Banks and it looks like it will be here to stay for a few days with lows in the 30's right into the weekend.

      He timed his walk to the beach this morning to get there just before sunrise and then beat a hasty retreat.  The wind is icy and blowing hard out of the north and even the hardiest of his morning companions were huddled in the shelter of a beachfront cottage when he left them.  A good day to shoot buckets at the Y and crank out a few more of his magnificent sunrise DVDs.

     Voters in Carteret County last year resoundingly voted down a bond issue similar to the one Nags Head voters will confront on April 17. The following is a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in which the writer explains why he thinks voters were so overwhelmingly opposed to the measure:

People voted “No” on beach bonds
Topsail Voice Letter to the Editor (12/6/06)
North Topsail Beach Alderman Dan Tuman’s recent letter states that the $34 million North Topsail Beach (NTB) bond referendum “failed to obtain voter approval.” What an understatement! The darn thing was taken to the woodshed! Approximately 80-percent of the voters said, “No.” It is a clear indication that the voters are not interested in the project. It is not surprising. In the past, beach nourishment financing proposals failed in similar fashion in Carteret and Dare counties. After six years of meetings, mailings and untold presentations and slide shows from the town’s consultants, the citizens said no. Mr. Tuman accurately describes some of the hazards of living at the beach. Unfortunately when you live this close to the Atlantic Ocean those are real and unavoidable risks. Many of the town’s citizens have experience with hurricanes and storms, having been through Hurricanes Fran and Bertha and there is even a few who remember Hazel back in the 1950s. Yet they still voted no. The citizens of NTB fully understand everything that Mr. Tuman is telling them. “The sky is falling” approach just doesn’t resonate with them. Mr. Tuman’s letter seems to lament the fact that sand wasn’t placed in front of the condemned houses at the north end of the town. There was good reason for it. They were in the water. Ultimately, NTB did approve and partially fund, with county assistance, a dredging operation to place sand in front of those homes. Unfortunately three months after NTB and Onslow County contributed a combined quarter million dollars to assist with that project (the state and federal government contributed much more) the water is back under those homes; a fact that was not lost on people considering a $34 million (plus $9 million of interest) bond referendum. The letter refers to these and other problems as “sand deficit” and “sand losses.” The old timers called them erosion. The question in front of our electorate was whether approximately $90 million (bonds, interest and periodic maintenance) over a 30-year period will stop erosion. It seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable for citizens to look at the costs, assess the risks and benefits and vote what they feel is in their best interest. I’m not sure if it was that type of thought process that prompted Mr. Tuman to label “some” people as “deluded” and wanting to “put our heads in the sand,” either way they overwhelmingly voted no. I suspect from the tone of his letter that he would have preferred that the bond referendum had passed. Because NTB isn’t spending $90 million to address its “sand deficit”, he is projecting serious financial problems for NTB. The truth is that NTB is in excellent financial shape. In order to move forward with the bond referendum NTB needed clearance from the state’s municipal finance watchdog, the Local Government Commission (LGC). The LGC has an outstanding reputation throughout the country and is one reason North Carolina maintains an excellent credit rating. After reviewing the town’s finances and its ability to repay the debt, the LGC permitted North Topsail Beach to proceed with the bond referendum, which would have required annual interest and principal payments of approximately $5 million. In addition, the town’s reserves or fund balances are several times the minimum required by the state and each year the NTB annual audit is forwarded to the LGC for analysis. The state is looking over NTB’s shoulder and doesn’t see a problem. No one who lives at the coast should fool themself into believing that storms won’t hit. They will cause damage. The voters know it. They knew it when they voted. Property will be damaged from water and wind. Most will be repaired some will not. Roads could be damaged, if so, they will be repaired by Department of Transportation. Debris will be removed and town property will be repaired, mostly paid for by the federal government. The town will clean up and continue on. In spite of all this, the building pace on the oceanfront has been frantic. Investors are pouring money into houses – big houses, big money, and sophisticated investors. As you read this letter, buildings are going up as close to the water as the state of North Carolina will allow. The question is - are they prepared to bear the financial risk or are they expecting the taxpayers of NTB and Onslow County to bail them out if the tide turns? The voters of NTB have had their say. - Richard Farley, North Topsail Beach (Editor’s note: Richard Farley is a North Topsail Beach Alderman.) People voted “No” on beach bonds

Uncle Jack says "Amen".


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6:35 a.m. Cold, cold, cold.

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6:45 The sun is up and so is the surf. Mother Nature did a nice job of sweeping the beach during the night.

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Pelicans had to fly into the wind this morning. On days like this it's a tough commute to wherever they're going.

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If you're planning to walk on the beach this morning walk south and return home on the Multi-use Pedestrian Facility. The north wind is enough to tear your face off.

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Uncle Jack's incredible sunrise DVD is available at Yellowhouse Gallery beginning today. Get out of the wind for a while and check out all the new offerings at Yellowhouse including Eve Turek's terrific new poster/print of OBX Fishing Piers.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:26 AM

Comments [6]

Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday April 4, 2007

     Uncle Jack almost eschewed his sunrise walk to the beach this morning because he felt a couple of raindrops as he left the house.  Lucky for him he pushed on because the incipient precipitation failed to develop and an interesting sunrise developed out of what looked like an unpromising beginning.  Also it was warmer on the beach at dawn than it was by late afternoon yesterday so walking was unexpectedly pleasant.  The sky is completely overcast at this point so it is hard to say how the day will develop but he would venture to guess that most of the folks who are here in the run-up to Easter weekend will be happy with it no matter what.

    He fiddled with his new laptop some more yesterday and has finally discovered how to transfer the contents of his old one into the new one which will consume several hours of his dwindling supply of time on earth this afternoon. He almost hopes it would rain all day so he won't feel like he is totally wasting his time.

   This thought-provoking letter appeared in the Outer Banks Sentinel today.  Uncle Jack is passing it along in case you haven't figured out yet how to read the Sentinel online:

In case anyone hasn't noticed, we live on a pile of sand.

Sand is not stable, and it is always at the mercy of the wind and water and unless we can figure out a way to cover the whole island with concrete, it probably behooves us to learn to live with it and realize the reason most of us are here in the first place is because it is a pile of sand next to an unpredictable body of water.

Our beaches are disappearing? I don't think so. I think our Board of Commissioners and all the involved committees connected to beach nourishment need to take a field trip to the beach — it's big and beautiful and, except for those houses in South Nags Head where they were allowed to build on oceanfront lots so small that they couldn't move westward, everything is pretty much the same as it's always been. The Outer Banks has been sticking its chin out into the Atlantic for a couple of hundred thousand years — why is the town of Nags Head trying to convince us that right now in this period of history, the beaches are suddenly going away and they have the power to "fix it?" Who's going to buy that?

The latest issue of the "Carolina Coast" has a feature article regarding summer rentals on the Outer Banks. "...Real estate experts are forecasting a 'hot and sunny' summer for the vacation home market." "...Last year was good for us, but this year we're way ahead for bookings."

Gosh, I guess all these folks will be spreading their beach blankets on the bypass since the beaches are all but gone! Henny Penny, as in "The sky is falling!", is alive and well in Nags Head.

Since we're not given any alternative methods of "saving" our beaches, who is going to guarantee this $30-plus million project? No one, of course. For heaven's sake, you even get a one-year guarantee on a $500 washing machine — who wants to gamble with millions? It's a gamble with our money and it's a gamble as to what the end results will be on our now beautiful beaches. Could be ugly, folks.

Needless to say, please get out to vote on April 17 — if you don't, you lose your privilege to complain afterwards.

                                            Gail Anderson                                   


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6:35 a.m.

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6:45, official sunrise. And there it is.

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Still visible ten minutes later.

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Then it disappeared behind the clouds again, perhaps not to be seen again today.

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The Magnificent Seven, plus five dogs. A terrifying sight to anyone coming the other way.

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Breeze, the natural born digger, has no understanding of the concept of "fetch". She latched onto Dixie the lab's tennis ball and ran around like this all morning, refusing to let go.

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Fish identification quiz. What is Audrey holding?

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Comfort Inn South is getting a new deck. Rubble from the old swimming pool has been removed from the beach and barring an April northeaster everything should be shipshape again before the beginning of hurricane season.

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Uncle Jack has no idea how they will get these pilings down to the beach but he is sure they will find a way.

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Why settle for a puny sunrise like this morning's when you could have 105 of them like this at your fingertips. Just send $9.99 to Uncle Jack at Box 554, Nags Head 27959 and he will rush a copy of his sunrise DVD to you posthaste.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:11 AM

Comments [6]

Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday April 3, 2007

     For the first time this year Uncle Jack left his coat and hat behind when he went to the beach this morning.  The wind had switched around to the north again but it was shirtsleeve time nevertheless--- even before the sun came up.  The ocean is flat calm and it looks like a spectacular beach day is in the offing. 

     Yesterday turned out to be another one---so warm and sunny that Uncle Jack felt a primordial urge to wash his car.  One of the best things about owning a MINI convertible is that it takes about three minutes to do it.

    Have a nice day wherever you are.

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6:35 a.m. Clouds are few and far between.

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Willets (?) were out in force this morning.

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Just a few traces of pink in the southern sky.

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Right on time.

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This could be a good day for the spring break crowd to work on their skin cancers. It should reach 75 later.

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Breeze is back and no crab is safe. Her earlier YouTube video ("Cute dog digs for crabs")has been viewed over 1700 times.

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Audrey displays one of the most frequently caught fish on the Outer Banks at this time of year (along with the skate and the dogfish).

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Always pretty to watch.

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This ominous sign appeared on the vacant lot next door to Uncle Jack's house yesterday. Will it be another "Son of Porta Potty"? Stay tuned. (Porta is for sale by the way---call Jennifer Place at Prudential for info).

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Uncle Jack went through $13 worth of Memorex labels yesterday trying to calibrate his printer. He finally succeeded and has a few more copies of his sunrise DVD ready. Write him at yelnag@charter.net for info about how to get one.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:02 AM

Comments [7]

Monday, April 2, 2007
Unrise in Sonag, Monday April 2, 2007

     Easter week is getting off to a rather dismal start on the Outer Banks this morning.  The sky is completely overcast and a light drizzle started just as Uncle Jack reached the beach at about 6:40.  He didn't stay long because it was obvious that the sun, his raison d'etre, was not going to appear any time soon.

     To cheer himself up he checked the weather conditions in Camden, Maine whence he will head in a couple of months.  It is 37 degrees this morning and the forecast is for snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain for the next couple of days.  68 and drizzly on the Outer Banks sounds quite acceptable at this point.

     This looks like a good day for him to tackle a chore he has been putting off because he really doesn't believe he has the technological chops to do it, namely to transfer data from his old computers to his sleek new Vista-equipped Hewlett-Packard.  He has read in various places how simple it is do it if you have a magical Belkin cable through which your pictures and other data are supposed to flow like water from one computer to the other.  Having had numerous experiences with "simple" computer-related devices and software he approaches this "easy" task with trepidation. Nothing will work the way it is supposed to and he will be reduced to a quivering blob of frustration before he gives up and calls a techie.  What a way to start the week.

     Take comfort from knowing that your Monday is going to be better than his no matter what happens.

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6:40 a.m. No sunrise this morning for sure.

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The brightest spot in the eastern sky at 6:49

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A simple walk on the beach can be hazardous in the company of four hyper-active dogs who seem to enjoy wrestling under your feet.

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Uncle Jack's sunrise DVD is a comfort on a dreary day like today. At $9.99 it's cheaper than valium and far more effective. Send your check to Uncle Jack at Box 554, Nags Head 27959) and he will rush one off to you quicker than the Easter bunny.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:56 AM

Comments [8]

Sunday, April 1, 2007
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday April 1, 2007

     Mother Nature pulled a little April Fool's Day joke of her own this morning by hiding the sun behind the clouds at 6:49 when it was supposed to appear and then letting it pop out round and red about ten minutes later.  Uncle Jack almost missed it because he didn't think it could possibly show up through the thick cloud cover at the horizon.  Mother Nature is full of surprises.

     It should be a warm day like yesterday with a likelihood of showers from time to time.  Lots of visitors have arrived for the weekend who will be staying through the coming week.  They are indeed fortunate because it looks like they have a lovely week in store. If it does rain they can always pop over to Yellowhouse Gallery which opened Friday for the 38th year in a row if Uncle Jack has calculated correctly.  He dropped in for a visit yesterday and he has to say the new owners, Eve and Pete Turek, are doing a wonderful job. You will love the improvements they have made over the winter. Go see it first chance you get.


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6:40 a.m. Nothing but clouds.

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And mist on the ground.

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7:10 It was beautiful while it lasted which was all of two minutes.

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"Wings" lovers will be happy to learn that the erector set has arrived on the lot opposite Tanger Mall and in no time at all you will have another place to buy your imported beach paraphernalia.

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Yesterday it was Sophia's turn to blow out the candles. All two of them. That's her mom watching proudly as Sophia contemplates the task before her.

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Uncle Jack cranked out another batch of his sunrise DVDs yesterday so he can handle new orders. A check for $9.99 sent to Uncle Jack Sandberg at Box 554, Nags Head, NC 27959 will get you a postpaid copy toot sweet. PayPal works, too.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:04 AM

Comments [0]

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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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