by Stephanie Fellenstein
Hudson Monthly Editor
For 17 days this summer, we spent our vacation criss-crossing the northeast from Chincoteague, Va., through Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, up into Canada. Today, many of the places we visited are under water after Hurricane Sandy blew through, leaving a trail of destruction across our vacation route.
Hurricane Sandy first hit near Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 29. Recovery efforts were under way by the next day, but at one point there were close to 8 million customers without power in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
On June 14 though, when we pulled out of Aurora and headed to Maryland, the weather was beautiful. It was still beautiful the next day in Annapolis as we walked to City Dock where the HMS Bounty was docked. Built in 1960 in Nova Scotia, it was used in the 1962 film, "Mutiny on the Bounty." The sun sparkled on the water that day as the flags on the Bounty waved softly in the wind.
Tragically, less than five months later, the Bounty sank as it was racing from Connecticut to one of its frequent winter homes in St. Petersburg, Fla., trying to outrun the hurricane. One of its 16 crew members died and the captain was still missing.
From Maryland, we followed the coast down to Chincoteague Island, Va., home of the wild ponies made famous in Marguerite Henry's children's book, "Misty of Chincoteague." Again, the weather was beautiful on that June afternoon as we crossed the five-mile causeway from the mainland to the island -- the only way to get on or off of Chincoteague. For two hours we boated through the grassy marshlands that surround Chincoteague and its neighboring island, Assateague, watching the ponies as they grazed near the water's edge.
By Monday, Oct. 29, the causeway was closed because of flooding, trapping the residents on the island. A noon curfew was issued and most of the roads on the 7-mile by 3-mile island were under water -- 3-feet deep in some spots, according to the Associated Press.
From Chincoteague we drove north, again following the coast through Delaware to Philadelphia, where we visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross' house and other historic sights. Those sights were battered by rain Monday night and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority remained closed until the facilities and equipment could be inspected.
We spent one night in New Jersey and then used the George Washington Bridge to cross the Hudson River to Manhattan. That bridge was shut down last Monday because of high winds.
Hurricane Sandy forced other spots we had visited to close or evacuate like Mystic Seaport Village in Mystic, Conn., and the Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I. Huge waves crashed up on the rocks along the Cliff Walk on the calm afternoon we hiked along the shoreline. I can't imagine what it was like during Hurricane Sandy.
We continued on, visiting Boston and New Hampshire on our way to Bar Harbor, Maine, where our campsite sat 10 feet from the ocean. It was beautiful at night watching the sun dip into the water as we searched the tide pools for treasures. I imagine our campsite was under water last week.
And the Park Look Road, the same road we followed to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, was closed this week. The views from the top of the mountain during the hurricane would have been drastically different from what I saw in June.
Our trip was not yet finished and we crossed the border into Canada visiting New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (the Atlantic provinces) and Québec before crossing back over into Vermont. Those areas also were hit with flooding, high winds, storm damage and power outages.
I think about the incredibly nice people we met along the way like the guy in the planetarium in Mystic or the woman who patiently waited as I stumbled through an explanation in my rusty, college French. I hope they, and the others we met along the way, are safe.
The world is a big and beautiful place and despite the hurricane, I am confident the East Coast will be beautiful once again. It just may take a little time.