30 Nov 2012
While Hurricane Sandy was pummeling parts of the East Coast, I had the luck of bad timing to be on vacation visiting my family in Rhode Island. But taking the opportunity to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to play a storm chasing photographer, get in the thick of the tempest, and take photos of the hurricane as it made landfall.
My sister Cyndie, always a rebel, was up for the adventure of putting our lives in danger. Plus, she was the only one with a car that I could persuade to drive me into harm's way. It didn't take much persuading. We bundled up in layers of weather-tight clothing, wrapped my camera in plastic, and set off on our endeavor to fight Hurricane Sandy and capture it all on film (or digital ones and zeros as the case may be).
Cyndie said she knew of a nice little sea wall and we drove to the coast, to where an old amusement park used to be, Rocky Point. Not really expecting any others to be as daring as us, we were quite surprised to find more than a dozen cars coming, going, and parked in the lot. Not losing our enthusiasm of the experience, we got out of the car and walked amongst some other daredevils... Or should I take the drama out of it and just call them Lookie Loos? Either way, we all trudged in quiet awe down the tree-lined path toward the angry ocean and possibly, our final destiny.
It was cold, the rain was stinging our faces, getting in our eyes, and soaking through the plastic that was supposed to be protecting my camera. The wind was howling with gusts up to 90 miles per hour, and over our heads the trees were dancing in a wild orgy as they shook with frenzy and arched to the breaking point. But we would not be deterred; the roiling ocean was in our sights.
The cavorting trees abated behind us as we fought the devastating wind and reached the ravaged shoreline. Here there was a beach with storm-tossed waves and wind-whipped foam crashing onto and consuming the sand in a gluttonous feast. But this was not our destination; the sea wall was to our left. We parted ways with our storm-weary brethren and continued the journey on our own.
Leaning into the shrieking wind, and fending off the needle like stings of nature's furious downpour, we fought our way toward where the monstrous ocean waves were vehement in their savage conquest of the man-made storm wall. With every hard-won step we inched closer to the tumultuous waves as they pounded into the wall and sprayed their fury thirty feet or more into the chilled air.
As the ferocious winds ripped the plastic protective covering from my camera, I remembered what I was here for. I raised my rain-soaked camera to my cold, red face and started snapping photos of the onslaught as each wave hit.
The next wave hit with such a tremendous force that it stopped me in my tracks. Expecting to see my sister shaking with fear, I looked toward her and found her laughing like a crazed lunatic and egging me onward toward the danger. Actually she wasn't laughing like a lunatic. I just put that in there because in made a good visual as I was typing this. But, Cyndie was certainly smiling and enjoying this perilous adventure.
As the storm continued to grow, another wave hit with even more ferocity. Above the roar of the torrent I yelled to my sister that it was definitely time to turn around and head back to safety. This was getting serious and she didn't disagree.
As we were heading back, I was lost in my own deep and reflective thoughts... "What a great adventure, we fought the storm, we got soaked, the wind knocked us down, we got back up, fantastic experience, we were cold, we survived... What the hell? Are you serious?"
On the beach just in front of us, crazy kids were swimming, laughing, and enjoying the hell out of the Hurricane. Swimming! They were swimming in the stormy ocean; ignoring the biting rain and the screaming wind that I just had a life altering experience with.
Astounded, I turned to my sister, she was again smiling like a crazed lunatic and I had to stop her from removing her clothes and joining the other Hurricane Hipsters in the ocean swells.
We headed back to the car - laughing all the way.