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UPDATE! The waters may still be troubled but the Bonner Bridge has been repaired and is back for safe OBX travel as of Dec 15th 2013 just in time for the Holidays!
Jim Baugh & Donna Bozza
“Sail on Silver Girl, Sail On By.”
Yes, it is true. Even Simon and Garfunkel would have a serious problem crossing the now determined-not-to-be-safe closed Bonner Bridge. The North Carolina, Outer Banks span that connects Bodie Island to Pea Island over the ever-changing, treacherous waters of Oregon Inlet. If the singing duo were heading south from Nags Head and wanted to gig some Nights in Rodanthe, then like the rest of us they had better find safe passage to Stumpy Point, NC.
Of course, structural bridge disasters are no laughing matter as history proves.
- Point Pleasant, West Virginia, December 16, 1967 the SilverBridge, 46 people killed.
- Vancouver, June 17, 1958 the Second Narrows Bridge, 19 souls lost.
- Melbourne, Oct 15, 1970 the West Gate Bridge, 35 people perished.
- Kansas City, July 17, 1981 the Hyatt Regency Footbridge, 114 people died.
- Tennessee, April 1, 1989 the Hatchie River Bridge, 8 people killed.
- Minneapolis, August 1, 2007 the I-35 Bridge, 13 people died and 145 were injured.
Would you have wanted to be on one of these bridges at the time of their demise?
Citing safety concerns NCDOT recently closed the Bonner Bridge, the lifeline to Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks that resulted in Dare County declaring a state of emergency for the island.
A huge thanks to the authorities for making the difficult decision to shut off land access to the lower Outer Banks rather than risk lives. Thanks also to the authorities who immediately set up the new, toll-free ferry routes from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe, NC. As much as I love traversing Oregon Inlet for the fishing grounds, under these circumstances I rather do it by ferry. Being another bridge disaster stat is not on my Bucket List.
The 50-year-old Bonner Bridge was only designed to be a 30-year bridge. The constant change in the sandy bottom has made maintenance on the bridge a continuous challenge since the inlet shifts south on average a 100 feet per year. To illustrate the change consider the Bodie Island Lighthouse that once stood at the margin of the inlet. It is now some three miles north.
Pretty dramatic –much like the creation of the inlet itself in 1846 when a massive hurricane swept through the area creating a gash in the sand between Pea Island and Bodie Island. Drama is a big part of the Outer Banks’ appeal, the excitement of untamed nature –what wild beauty will she create next out of wind and water? It’s why so many of us love to visit.
Of course, practical considerations must be made for those who call the Outer Banks home, along with tourists. The Bonner Bridge being 20 years past its prime begs the question, why isn’t there a new bridge in place or at least underway?
The answer lies between two camps, each with a different solution for the aging bridge –and these camps are at war.
Much like the allied forces trying to stop the bridges in Germany during World War ll, a similar war is happening between Dare County officials and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Camp 1: Dare County, NCDOT, and the people of Hatteras Island.
This camp strongly believes the Bonner Bridge should be replaced with a new Bonner Bridge adjacent to the current site. The people of Dare County have good reasons for wanting this as the location provides a direct, continuous lifeline to Hatteras Island. It also cost substantially less than the longer proposed bridge traversing the Pamlico Sound.
Lawsuits have plagued the progress of replacing the Bonner Bridge. The legal cost for fighting the opposition is not only delaying construction but could possibly be impacting the funds used for current bridge maintenance.
“The additional stall tactics of the SELC continue to put a strain on taxpayer money and our ability to keep this vital lifeline open for the people of eastern North Carolina and the millions of visitors who travel to the area each year,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “As the federal judge’s ruling confirmed last month, NCDOT cares about the economy, the environmental impact, and the people in all that we do.”
In a nutshell, Camp 1 wants environmental lawsuits dropped to green light the second incarnation of the Bonner Bridge.
Camp 2: Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and other environmentalist and conservation groups.
This camp does not believe that a replacement Bonner Bridge in basically the same location is a wise move. They are in favor of the more expensive construction goal of building a much longer bridge that would span the Pamlico Sound. [It would be roughly the size of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel that connects the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area to Virginia’s Eastern Shore and points north.] This plan is promoted as being a safer, long-term option with less environmental impact. Their stand directly from the SELC website:
“In violation of law, the Federal Highway Administration and N.C. Department of Transportation’s planned replacement fails to include how they will maintain Highway 12 through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, an exposed oceanfront stretch of road that is expected to become increasingly eroded over coming years. The illegal plan is unsafe and unreliable for residents, travelers, and businesses with undisclosed costs and impacts, not only to taxpayers, but also to those residents, businesses, and coastal environment. By ignoring the inherent flaw in their plan, the agencies trap the state and its residents into hidden costs and environmental damage of continually trying to maintain the road and proposed additional bridges through the refuge against the persistent power of the ocean. The costs will likely be much higher, and incurred much sooner, than estimated.”
Currently Camp 2 is appealing a judge’s decision that was in favor of NCDOT and plans for the replacement Bonner Bridge. While Camp 1 Dare County is screaming, “Let it go! Stop this! Drop the lawsuits!”
BOTH camps have valid arguments; neither in my opinion is 100% wrong or right. Both parties believe they are fighting for what is best for the public and environment and respectfully so.
While the lawsuits are being battled the people who are the most affected, in many ways stranded, are the fine folks on Hatteras Island. Tourists who are vital to the area’s economy are also in a quandary. They love visiting and spending their money on the island that always delivers an excellent Outer Bank experience.
Fortunately, the new ferry route is in place and working. OBX transportation folks are experts in floating people and their vehicles. And the ferries launch the charm of an island adventure!
Some travelers have had long waits while others none at all, a lot can depend on what time you take the ferry. Since this is a new operation and things are changing almost daily, I would suggest contacting the ferry and asking for the off-peak hours of its Stumpy Point route and plan accordingly.
What can we do to help the folks on Hatteras Island now?
Believe it or not, December- March is one of my favorite times to go to Hatteras Village. We have filmed some great Tuna fishing over the years there and I always love going to Hatteras during the off-season. The privacy is so peaceful and the beauty is not limited to any one season.
I talked to tourism director Lee Nettles in Manteo and he agreed. The next few months are a wonderful time to head down and support Hatteras Island. It’s the perfect excuse to plan a Coastal Couples Getaway and enjoy the serenity.
Manteo is a great layover stop on the way down for a romantic evening with your sweetheart. The next morning head out early to Stumpy Point and enjoy the new ferry ride to Rodanthe. When you get to Rodanthe, you can see where the famous “Nights in Rodanthe” house was, and is now further south down the road. Yes, they moved the famous movie home to a new location, refurbished and all.
When I stay in Hatteras Village, I do a great deal of cooking. They have wonderful kitchens with everything you need to fix up some coastal cuisine delights. Bring a cooler on your way down and buy some local fresh seafood. Maybe whip up a fresh seafood linguine in your condo at Hatteras Village. Man, I wish I were there now! Love the place!
The fact is that the good folks of Hatteras Island need your support and tourism dollars –and after the holiday madness, we all deserve some restful solitude. Be a little patient with the new ferry ride if need be. Hey relax you’re on island time.
Here is another nice bonus! There are businesses like hotels and restaurants that are offering discounts due to the temporary rerouting from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe. For more and current information just call the tourism office in Manteo. 877-629-4386.
I am planning our trip back to Hatteras right after the holidays. Starting the New Year off with some mirth and surf is a good way to go. Maybe we will see you there!
Ferry schedule below Stumpy Point/Rodanthe
Departing from Stumpy Point: 3:30a.m., 5, 6:30, 8, 9:30, 11, 12:30p.m., 2, 3:30, 5, 9:30, and 11.
Departing from Rodanthe: 1:30a.m., 6, 7:30, 9, 10:30, noon, 1:30p.m, 3, 4:30, 6, 7:30, and midnight.
Chow, tight lines, and good reads!
Jim Baugh & Donna Bozza
Jim Baugh Outdoors 25th Anniversary
Photo Credits: Harvey Eugene Smith, Jim Baugh, Donna Bozza, Creative Commons, JE Levine, NCDOT, Mike Nichols/Lawrence Turman .
Tourism office in Manteo NC. 877-629-4386.
NCDOT Ferry Routes http://www.ncdot.gov/travel/ferryroutes/
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Jim Baugh Outdoors 25th year anniversary and celebrating 30 years of cooking with cast iron!
As you can see Clint knows how to pack some iron. Cast iron goes back hundreds of years and America was founded by pioneers who kept their kitchenware on their backs, horses, and wagons. Back then if you were traveling two things were for sure in your arsenal, Starter or some sort of leavening, and cast iron cookware most
There are many reasons why cast iron was so popular back then and why it is so popular today. Here are just a few of my personal favorites:
- Even dispersment of heat that last longer while cooking
- Non stick seasoned surface that really works
- A go green cooking application, no need for dishwasher or dish detergent
- Heavy and durable, next to impossible to damage.
- Versatility in cooking, can be used in a diversity of culinary applications
- Works on stove top or oven
- Best tool to brown and caramelize foods
- Can be used in outside open flame pit fires as well as conventional electric
- Will not warp at all, providing more contact with heat element and more even cooking
- No Teflon surface to flake off
- Health benefits of Iron versus other possible dangerous cooking materials
- Last many lifetimes
In my book there are no negatives about using cast iron cookware, plus the fact everything taste better cooked in them. If you have ever had southern fried chicken done properly in a cast iron skillet, you would never fix it any other way again. It is a great tool.
There are some things to consider about cast iron. They are heavy, but then again they heat better and last for ever. A little bit of a trade off but not much. The other is the pan needs to be seasoned and maintained which is extremely simple to do. There are some things that can ruin your pan quickly however as long as you know what they are and abide by a few simple rules you will never have a problem.
Here are my cast iron tips from years of experience cooking with cast iron. I love cooking with cast iron because I learn just a little something more about cooking with cast iron every time I use it. The applications for cast iron skillets just seem to be endless basically because of their extreme diversity.
Here we go. How to season a pan and maintain it.
A well seasoned and maintained cast iron skillet will provide a great non stick surface and take no effort to clean up. Here is how it works for me.
When I first got my skillet over 30 years ago I decided to smoke a turkey on the grill. I had just purchased the pan and it needed seasoning so I used it as a drip pan for the turkey. For eight hours that bird coated that pan like you would not believe. Once finished I just wiped the pan down, then put it in the oven at 350 with a little addition oil. After 30 minutes the pan cooled and rested, I wiped it down with an oiled cloth and put it away.
A good storage trick is to dampen a couple paper towels with oil and lay them inside the pan unfolded. This is what I would do when I was stacking smaller multiple cast iron pans. Do you need to have a smoked turkey drip in your pan for eight hours? No you don’t. Just wipe the pan down good with oil and bake. But if you happen to be doing a turkey anyway… go for it.
Once I start cooking with the skillet I would always finish it off with a coating of oil before storage. And sometimes if I have a little bacon grease I would use that to, especially before I would be cooking. This is not different than what is done at a diner. They throw the bacon on the grill before you get there and coat the grill with grease, then start cooking. That little stainless steel pan at the back of the diner grill is actually bacon grease that is used to coat the grill throughout the day.
Ease of clean up depends on how well the pan is seasoned
Do not use steel, metal, or even a scrub brush on your pan. Anything abrasive will take off your seasoning and it usually is not necessary. If you super season your pan you should be able to simply wipe off the pan with a paper towel. If there is anything stuck to the bottom simply place some hot water in the pan and let rest for only a few minutes, then wash with a dish rag, it will come right up. (If what is sticking to the pan is flour based use cold water.) Always dry your pan with a paper towel and then wipe entire skillet with an oiled towel. It is that simple. Things to not do are use dish soap, or put the skillet in the dishwasher. Keeping your pan dry and oiled is a big key to low maintenance ease of use cast iron cookware.
I probably over season my cast iron, but that only makes for a pure non stick surface. Under seasoning is worse than over seasoning. Sometimes if I am not using my skillet (which I always leave on the stove) and walk past it, I will just give it a little love of oil wipe down. Never hurts and I always have a super non stick surface.
Why I love my cast iron skillet so much? Diversity!
If I only had one piece of cookware to use it without a doubt would be my skillet. Cast Iron skillets are sort of the one stop shop of cookware, you really don’t need much or anything else. Below are just a few of the dishes we have cooked using cast iron skillets most of which recipes are found on Jim’s Galley Blog or Jim’s Coastal Cuisine.
A picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few we love.
Americana Found…… at a Hardware Store.
I am not sure what struck me about my first exposure to Watsons Hardware Store. Probably strolling by one late salty mist afternoon in the historic Chesapeake bayside town of Cape Charles and seeing about ten or twelve folks all gathered around on the sidewalk rocking comfortably in their favorite rocking chair auspiciously and proudly holding the finest in ice chilled double insulated tumblers. While they were wetting whistles and spinning yarn I noticed that some of the rocking chairs had engraved name plates on them. This sidewalk social has enough brain power, muscle, southern charm, and determination to get a president elected, but, only if they wanted to. This hallowed communal community ground is a true American sidewalk. A walk that lands at rest as the afternoon sun dips westward below the burnt orange horizon of the Chesapeake Bay.
This store front sidewalk social group is one of legend with regulars and select invited guest to harbor the celebration of days end. These gentlemen are truly the afternoon protectors of an American tradition and heritage of a bygone era that we only see splinters of today in our modern society. To look through the aged beveled glass windows that stand behind the purveyors of sidewalk Americana was a wonder. To walk through the doors was a journey through a passage of time. A time when political correctness was not even in the English language and the words family, honor, dignity, integrity, and “we are closed on Sundays”, actually meant something.
Welcome, to Watsons Hardware. Americana found.
Location: The Town of Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Departing northward from the Elliot’s Creek area by automobile and getting to Cape Charles is a lovely start to this sneak peak in Americana hardware bliss because,
……..This is the Eastern Shore.
Driving at only 25mph in a 40mph posted limit is not because I am wishing to drive like my sweet dearly departed Grandmother affectionately known as “Nanna Baugh”. Even cruising the highway, Nanna never broke 20mph. This gave her time to appreciate the flowers in the median. Something I too learned to appreciate in my later years.
My speed reduction while navigating the back roads of the Eastern Shore is for simple reasons like lower speeds make it easier to dodge the bucolic deer that seem to be in endless supply. They are only second in popularity to the wild red and grey foxes, raccoon, geese, and of course the antler hunters who come out in four wheel drive droves to try and find and conquer their catch.
If they only looked by my mailbox, there is 10 of them!
Hunting for Deer on the Eastern Shore should not be called hunting, rather it should be called, “Checking your mail” when you see one at the mailbox, talk nice to it and it will follow you home. Once off the back roads and on 13, I felt a little more comfortable picking the speed up to 55 and getting into Cape Charles without antlers in my windshield. Nanna would be proud.
This area is an outdoor enthusiast dream! Kiptopeake State Park, Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge, Barrier Islands galore, migratory flight paths of Zen like nature. But………..
I need a Pizza Pan.
This is what led me eventually to the tribune “esk” ritual of Watsons Hardware in Cape Charles. Yes, it is Friday and Jim is making pizza for pizza night and his lovely Donna does not have a pan that I MUST have in order to do my diligent kitchen duty. No problem, I will just run up to the store and get one. Well, after a brief visit to the “Food Dilemma” grocery store chain where I had about as much luck finding a pizza pan as a match.com profile finding a current photograph, I decided to move on to the next store in the parking lot. Enter, the Dollar General.
We got close! There was a pan, only five bucks, but I wanted round not square so I ventured off to Cape Charles. It was only later I found out that the Eastern Shore in Crisfield was having rash of dollar general robberies. This I could not figure out? If your going to rob a store, would you not rob one that advertised more than a dollar?
Finally I arrive in rustic Cape Charles and enter Americana nirvana, Watsons Hardware. Now THIS was a throwback in time.
The cool thing about this old store is not only is it over 100 years old, but the place has just about anything you would need. If they don’t exactly have what you are looking for, they will have something close. Sure enough they had a pot and pan section with plenty of crab steamers. They did not have an array of pizza pans, but they had one. I bought it and was very pleased with the product, price, and the attentive service.
This old store truly, at least in concept, reminded me of what an old trading store use to be like. Think back to the movie “The Outlaw Josie Whales”. Clint rides up to the provision store and the grocery list is pretty interesting. Buckshot, yeast, sulfur, flour, feed, chew, beans, lard, and of course, beef jerky.
A hardware store sells hardware. Watson’s sells what you may need to get threw life, including the wood stove.
I have not been to many hardware places that have a fairly complete bicycle and fishing section. This does make sense considering Cape Charles is located on the Chesapeake Bay and everyone rides bikes everywhere in town. The nearby bike trails and scenery around the marinas is something to see. Sure enough, if your gonna need that wiggle worm or maybe an inner tube, you can conveniently find it in one place. Watson’s
Is that a Walmart Cart?
Traversing back towards the center of the store I noticed an opening in the wall of Americana Nirvana. Two open doors that let to a cavernous pickers dream. This area was a cross between a store, yard sale, antique shop, and junk yard.
A true pickers dream.
Browsing around I saw just about everything. A 19th century reed pump harmonium with wood pedals that actually worked. Then there was the plastic boat for two and the infamous round malleable blue swimming pool hovering over a stack of chairs.
Then I glanced over and I saw it, a bit confused I had to ask myself,
“Is that a Walmart Cart or a Walnut Cart?
Sure enough there awaits in front of me an entire shopping cart filled with walnuts. Sold by the pound or the cart!
Heading out of pickerland, I went to a different section of this memorable store. How about this for an end cap. Here in one small section is:
Water skis, an axe, a duck decoy, tennis racket, hard hat, minnow bucket and deer antlers. Now THAT is a selection.
Before I left with my prized shimmering Teflon glazed Watsons Hardware Pizza Pan, I had a nice chat with the fellow who was behind the counter. He came out from behind, greeted me in a warm Southern Virginia style and said,
“Hello, my name is Bill Watson, can I help you?”
Certainly out of respect I immediately introduce myself and told Bill I was thinking about writing a little story about his historic family store. Certainly this place was even worthy of Nanna Baugh driving 20mph to get to. I was just so intrigued with the place I wanted him to know that this store had certainly peaked my curiosity.
“That is fine Jim, you know the New York Times once did a piece on this old place and so did Coastal Living! You go right a head and over here is a little bit of history about the building.”
The hardware store and building have been a family business since going way back to the early 1900’s, 1906 I believe. It is fascinating to think of the changes that have occurred during that time. Many changes, yet some things still remain the same. There are countless pictures hanging in the store of customers, family gatherings, and of course the “who caught the biggest fish” picture. All a welcome sight as you pass through the isles of days gone by.
There are not a lot of places left like Watson’s Hardware store and it is a true slice of Americana. If you are traveling along Rt. 13 on the Eastern Shore you may want to make a special trip to Cape Charles and check on the monochrome auld lang syne world of yesteryear at Watsons. If you’re coming across the Chesapeake on the Bay Bridge Tunnel or planning a trip to Bay Creek by water, do take the time to plan an excursion to Watsons Hardware. I am sure you will need to pick up something while you are there anyway.
…….Just don’t go on a Sunday.
Gather all yee friends and neighbors!
“Say honey! Hey baby since you are going out this afternoon going shopping and getting your hair done, and seein how I have completed all my chores this morning, I think I’ll gather up the boys for a little yarn spinnin. Catch up on some fishin stories. Think I am gonna call the buds, stop by the libation store, and fetch a bag of clams to steam up on the wood stove. I know Cletus will bring us all some real fat stogies to smoke. So I will catch up with you later dahlin, if you need us we will all be a sittin around the hot stoked burnin stove at the…………….. Home Depot, Isle 11.
Popular private Outer Banks Avon fishing pier fights to stay open, NPS shuts them down today.
Recently I read where the fine folks at Avon fishing pier were going to open their business regardless of the Government Shutdown. I certainly thought this to be a pretty brave and spirited thing to do and wanted to find out more about the situation.
Today I spoke with Christian Matthews of the Avon fishing pier and got the lowdown. She said that the pier is privately owned and opened to the public as a business. However it is on federal land. So there is no real way for people to access the pier because they would have to cross federal land to get to a public locality. This same exact issue is happening at other locations around the country. On the Eastern Shore of VA, the wildlife refuge has a very popular public boat ramp and marina heavily utilized by watermen who make their living fishing these waters. However it is located on federal property. So, anyone can see the huge problem that this causes.
Not only are the fine folks who are furloughed not getting a pay check, but the private businesses are getting no business at all. The worst of it is the government may reimburse furloughed employees, but there is no way to pay back the private businesses that lost 100% revenue.
One thing that fuels this fire for the anglers and commercial fisherman is that this time of year is one of the busiest times, especially the fall season on the Outer Banks. As it stands now, this revenue that is lost will not be repaid by our government.
The National Park Service got wind that Avon Pier was going to reopen and as of 5 a.m. this morning they showed up at the pier and made sure it was shut down. They said that if the pier attempts to reopen the fines will start immediately. Hats off to the NPS for not fining them for reopening and instead giving them an initial warning.
Ms Matthews said they are working hard to rectify the situation -however it does not look like anything much can be done.
Certainly this is a huge mess and the entire country is up in arms. Hopefully out of this there could be some legislation written so that in the future if a public business can only be accessed by federal land the business can remain open, or the government can pay back these private businesses for the revenue they lost.
For the moment I hope that all sportsman will very much support these businesses like the Avon pier once things re-open. Helping and supporting them could help make up for lost revenues.
Here is what maybe should happen to all federal politians to help wake them up.
Author of HOOKED
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