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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Subtle Sunrise in Sonag, May 31, 2011
       No excuses this morning. Uncle Jack got up at 5 a.m. and reached the beach a full 15 minutes before official sunrise at 5:47. He hung around another 15 minutes until the sun finally made a fuzzy appearance through a bank of clouds on the horizon but he has to say it was time well spent. There is no place like the beach at dawn, especially when you have it all to yourself like he did this morning.
       He and Mrs. U.J. took their daily beach walk yesterday along the newly constructed beach north of Lakeside Street up to the Village at Nags Head Beach Club where the dredge pipe currently terminates. They saw the "crab" in action for the first time, surveying the ocean floor for reasons only the dredgers understand.
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will be busy for the rest of the week getting their house ready for the first renters who will be arriving on Saturday. There are still some prime weeks available which you can check out at       http://www.obxcola.com/details.asp?unit=UJ

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5:47 a.m., official sunrise. It's back there somewhere.

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It's always fun to watch the pelicans while waiting for the sun to make an appearance.

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6 a.m. Old Sol finally makes a ghostly appearance. Not exactly spectacular but reassuring nonetheless.

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First glimpse of the crab at work reading the ocean floor.

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Up close and personal with the 'dozers.

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The Village at Nags Head's new beach being enjoyed by a Memorial Day throng. Imagine what the beach at Virginia Beach or Ocean City looked like yesterday.

posted by Uncle Jack at 6:56 AM

Comments [1]

Monday, May 30, 2011
The Dredge Report--Part two
       Once again Uncle Jack's noble efforts to photograph the sunrise have been thwarted by smoke from the mainland fire. The wind blew it in some other direction all day Sunday but this morning it hangs heavy over Sonag once again, irritating his eyes and breathing apparatus. If he believed in the power of prayer he would be beseeching the Almighty to put some heavy rain on that fire toot sweet. As it is all he can do is hope the wind shifts again.
       He stopped by the dredge site on the way to the Food Lion last evening to see how things were going. Obviously they are going very well because by 7:30 p.m. yesterday the pipe, which begins at Lakeside Street, had reached the northern end of the Village at Nags Head (Mayor Bob Oakes, Prop.)
and was moving right along. Two more sections of pipe were added while Uncle Jack (and a lot of other observers) watched. For an exercise in futility it's very entertaining to watch he must confess.

Uncle Jack's House for rent: http://www.obxcola.com/details.asp?unit=UJ

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This picture gives a good idea of how much the beach is being widened in this area.

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The specialized pipe-hauling front loader puts another length of pipe in place while bulldozers push sand around. Very noisy.

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Organized chaos.

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The front loader moves lights into position so the work (beep beep beep) can continue through the night.

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Meanwhile, on another part of the beach, more primitive methods were used to build this castle.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:08 AM

Comments [5]

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday May 28
       Just to prove that he could still do it Uncle Jack hauled himself out of bed at 5:30 this morning, strolled up to the beach and took a picture of the sunrise. Actually he could only assume that the sun did come up because the cloud cover on the horizon was so thick as to obscure the proceedings.
       In the absence of smoke, however, the beach was a pleasant place to be at that hour and he would have lingered longer were it not for the mosquitoes nibbling at his ankles.

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The weatherman says the sun rose at 5:50. Uncle Jack will have to take his word for it.

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The lights were still on on Jennette's Pier and on the dredge working off Lakeside Street.

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Nice clouds to the south.

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Meanwhile back at Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage (did he mention that it's for rent?) the oleanders are in bloom.

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Not to mention the tiger lilies.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:45 AM

Comments [6]

Friday, May 27, 2011
Promises Kept
       Uncle Jack returned to the scene of the crime this morning, namely the beach renourishment site north of Lakeside Street. He wanted to check out the progress of the renourishers and also subject the new sand to a touch and smell test. He has been dubious about officials' claims that the sand would be virtually indistinguishable from the existing beach sand, that it would not smell, and that only short stretches of beach would have to be closed at any one time and only for relatively short periods.
       He is very pleased to report that so far at least his fears have been unwarranted. The sand coming in at Lakeside is virtually indistinguishable from the existing beach except for a slightly larger quantity of shell fragments, it doesn't smell, and beachgoers were disporting themselves on the new sand only 24 hours after it was pumped ashore. So far, so good.
       Uncle Jack is no more optimistic about the long term viability of the project than he was before but at least he can tell prospective renters of his house this summer that the renourishment project should not severely impact their vacations.
       (He is also pleased to report that despite a very late start in the rental market the summer weeks are filling up fast. For further information google either Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage or Cola Vaughan Realty).
       He has been struggling to get up early enough to take a sunrise picture and he has actually succeeded several times only to be thwarted by the lung-scorching smoke that has permeated South Nags Head from time to time during the past several days. We shall see what tomorrow brings.
       The Beach Road in the vicinity of Jennette's Pier has become very hazardous territory. Uncle Jack had lunch at Sam and Omie's with old friend Philly Steve Thomas and became aware for the first time just how crazy that intersection has become. Vehicular traffic enters the road from a half-dozen sources and the danger is compounded by a pedestrian crossing right in the middle of it. Even in broad daylight it's dangerous. Not good.

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The pumping has proceeded much more rapidly than earlier estimates, perhaps because conditions are ideal.

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Sand to the right of the pipe (and a small portion of the sand on the left)is new. Walkovers are provided every 50 yards or so.

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These beachgoers are disporting themselves on sand that was pumped ashore yesterday.

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Looking south at the newly widened beach. The new sand has not been completely leveled in this area because one of the bulldozers broke down.

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This could be the most dangerous intersection on the Outer Banks since Jennette's Pier opened last Saturday.

posted by Uncle Jack at 1:38 PM

Comments [3]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Dredge Report
       Beach replenishment started last evening (Tuesday) at Lakeside Street, just south of the Village at Nags Head's oceanfront properties and appears to be heading north. The pictures below were taken around noon on Wednesday. Uncle Jack will do a feel and smell test tomorrow. Stay tuned.
       With the wind out of the south all of South Nags Head was smoke free all day. Hallelujah.

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Here the dredge is taking on a load of sand from about a mile offshore, off Pelican street at about the 20 milepost.

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Here it has moved to a position off Lakeside Street where it connects to an underwater pipe which carries the sand to the beach propelled by water.

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When operating at full pressure the pump produces quite a gusher.

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As the sand piles up in one place it is spread out by bulldozers.

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When enough sand has piled up in one place this machine carries a new length of pipe to be attached to the old.

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The entire work area was fenced off so Uncle Jack could not get a feel of the sand but he will check it out tomorrow.

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This untethered beach ball accompanied us on our walk for about a half mile this morning. The beach in Sonag was smoke free.

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The first sand castle of the 2011 season.

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This beautiful/ugly (pick one) blowfish washed up near Pelican Court.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:19 PM

Comments [9]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Jennette's Pier
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. spent an hour on Jennette's Pier yesterday and a pleasant hour it was in spite of the 30 knot wind that was making things difficult for the handful of erstwhile fishermen. Last Saturday's Grand Opening mob had gone away and while they didn't exactly have the pier to themselves it almost seemed like it.
       Without a doubt this is the Cadillac, or maybe even the Land Rover, of fishing piers. Uncle Jack's fishing days are over but he anticipates visiting Jennette's Pier often in the future simply to wallow in its magnificence. There is nothing quite like it even in Baltimore.
       As the owner of a rental house in South Nags Head, situated within walking distance of this marvelous new amenity, he can only rejoice at the generosity of the taxpayers of North Carolina who have provided him (and his renters) with such a munificent gift at a time when they are collectively flat broke. Never look a gift horse in the mouth said the wise man and Uncle Jack is not about to argue with him.
       $25 million does not seem like too much to spend on a good, solid fishing pier in a prime tourist area which heretofore has had to make do with a motley collection of five somewhat rickety privately owned piers, none of which is really suitable for a decent wedding ceremony, especially when the wind is blowing the way it did yesterday.
Money well spent if you ask Uncle Jack.
       He wishes he could say the same for beach replenishment which will consume more than $30 million over the next few months. Unless Mother Nature decides otherwise the pier is likely to be in the same place and more-or-less intact twenty years down the road. Where the replenished sand will be is anybody's guess. That, too, will be up to Mother Nature to decide.
       Uncle Jack was up at 5:30 this morning and ready to photograph the sunrise as he is wont to do. He stepped outside into a cloud of sulfurous fumes emanating from the Stumpy Point fire and promptly retreated into his air-conditioned, fume-free house. The sunrise didn't amount to anything anyway. (For more information about how to rent his fume-free house this summer or fall please google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage").
       Have a nice day.

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This bulletin board tells the story of how many times the pier has been destroyed and rebuilt since 1930. This one should hold up a bit longer than the others.

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The view of the beach, north and south, is breathtaking. Great spot from which to watch beach replenishment unfold.

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Also a great vantage point from which to view the vast pall of smoke moving north from the mainland fire.

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The pier end is spacious and has a wind shelter from which to watch fishermen do their thing in comfort even in a 30-knot wind.

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Informative bulletin boards like this are exposed to the elements in many places on the pier. How long will they last? Uncle Jack is not sanguine.

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Lots of folks have already popped for one of these $200 memorial planks. 12,500 of them will pay for the whole shebang.

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Uncle Jack has been reliably informed that the N.C. Aquarium logo is a spadefish. This is imbedded in the floor of the pier.

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Many patrons have also endowed benches at $1500 a pop. Uncle Jack applauds their generosity.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:23 AM

Comments [0]

Monday, May 23, 2011
Current Events
              It was a lovely weekend on the Outer Banks except where it wasn't, which was large parts of northern Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. The sun shone brightly over all but at ground level a thick pall of smoke from the fires on the mainland made breathing difficult for some and life-threatening for the poor of lung. Prevailing winds spared South Nags Head from the scourge which was a good thing for Uncle Jack who has enough trouble breathing even when the air is pristine.
       He and Mrs. U.J. took advantage of their good luck by taking a couple of what will be their last long walks on South Nags Head's natural beaches. What they will look and feel like after the Great Lakes Dredging Company gets through with them is anybody's guess but he is not looking forward to finding out.
       A drive up the Bypass to Harris-Teeter to replenish his supply of spiritual beverages on Sunday (after noon, of course---this is still North Carolina after all) reminded him that Memorial Day ain't what it used to be. It's still a week away yet the Bypass is already so clogged with traffic as to be indistinguishable from the first weekend in August. No doubt this phenomenon comes under the general heading of "Progress" over at the Tourist Bureau. And now that he has a house for rent maybe he should stop kvetching about it.
(For further information google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage or Cola Vaughan Realty).
       He has learned to his great delight that Charter carries the MASN network which broadcasts all the Orioles games. Why this should make him happy he is not sure given the Orioles' amazing proclivity for losing games in spectacular fashion---like their 15-3 annihilation by the lowly Washington Nationals the other night. To be a Baltimorean is to watch the Orioles and suffer and he is trying hard to meet that responsibility of citizenship in Charm City.
       He is determined to rise tomorrow in time to photograph the sunrise. This is probably just another manifestation of deep-seated paranoia on his part---like watching the Orioles---but he feels like it is his duty as an Outer Banker. Stay tuned.

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This highly specialized piece of equipment will soon begin laying pipe in the ocean. Called a "crab" it will soon be the only crab you will find on the beach

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Pipes are piling up at the Gray Eagle Street beach access just north of Jennette's Pier. This looks like it might be the first area to be replenished but who knows.

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These derelict houses on Seagull Drive are standing on the beach that needs to be replenished. How this will be resolved is anybody's guess.

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Will this house live to rent again? Stay tuned.

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This is the last week for strawberries at the Point Harbor U-Pick-Em. Great picking last Friday.

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Uncle Jack couldn't get up early enough to photograph the sunrise this morning but he found this one in his picture file. Enjoy.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:05 PM

Comments [0]

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Back to the Future
              Uncle Jack is happy to report that he and Mrs. U.J. will be spending a lot more time in Nags Head from now on.       Instead of renting their house in Sonag year-round which they have been doing since they moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago, they have put it into seasonal rental which means they will be able to use it themselves once in a while. Right now they are spending three weeks getting it all gussied up with a new paint job and a new bathroom and new furniture to the point where they almost want to move back in permanently and forget about Charm City. (For more info about their house and how to rent it go to http://www.obxcola.com/details.asp?unit=UJ
              Anyway he feels like he is an Outer Banker again so he has decided to start up his OBX blog where he left off a couple of years ago. There is so much going on down here right now that he won’t have any trouble coming up with stuff to write about. The magnificent new Jennette’s Pier is opening this weekend and he wouldn’t miss that for anything. And then there is the long-dreaded (by Uncle Jack at least) beach renourishment project which gets underway shortly and continues throughout the summer, much to the joy (and sorrow) of oceanfront rental cottage owners. Uncle Jack won’t be standing in front of the bulldozers (Mrs. U.J. won’t let him) but he knows how those protesters at Tianenmen Square must have felt.
              Presumably the sun will continue to rise each morning in spite of beach renourishment and he plans to test his ability to get up to the beach at dawn and take a few pictures like he used to do. Stay tuned.

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Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday, May 21, 2011

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Sonag beach near the 19 milepost. 5/21/11 Wide enough?

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Same beach, looking north.

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Part of the large crowd attending the Grand Opening of the new $25 million Jennette's Pier on Saturday, 5/21.

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They were treated to a spectacular show by the Golden Knights parachute team before the politicians took over the limelight.

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Even jaded old Uncle Jack thought this was pretty cool.

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Nags Head mayor Bob Oakes wore a tie and gave well-received (i.e. short) welcoming speech. Gov. Perdue emphasized that this pier belongs to all N.C. citizens.

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These mighty machines will soon be pushing new sand around in front of what once was Surfside Road.

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They will operate 24/7 with the help of these lights. The project is expected to start very soon, ahead of schedule.

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A defunct skate, one of many littering the beach on the morning of 5/21. Cause of death unknown.

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:42 PM

Comments [7]

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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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