remembering hurricane sandy: front row seats

remembering hurricane sandy: front row seats

frankenstorm: the surreal aftermath


Four years ago, October 29, 2012, we encountered one of our most surreal experiences.  We ignored evacuation orders and stayed in our home in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey as Hurricane Sandy made landfall.

hurricane sandy waves

A 15-20 foot tall sea wall stretched along the coast in front of our house, protecting it from storm tides.  Pillars elevated the main living space above the garage. In front of the garage, we put about 50 sand bags.

sandbags hurricane sandy

The forecast only called for about 65mph winds, and so we figured we would be fine. We had recently installed automatic aluminum shutters on all windows except the backside of our house.  We believed the shutters could withstand at least 100mph winds.  As long as the storm was within the forecasted range, we felt we were safe.  However, just before landfall, the storm strengthened and made a turn for the worse.   This brought a larger than expected sea level surge and wind speeds up to 110mph (45mph faster than forecasted).

hurricane sandy view from deck shutters waves

By about 7pm when the forecasts got dramatically worse, we were beginning to regret our decision.  However, we knew it was too late to leave at that point.  The town was already flooding from the backside bay at high tide before the storm even made landfall.

The shutters blocked our view of the ocean, but we could peak our head out the side door to get a view of the rising ocean.  We began to worry as we watched the entire ocean level rise to nearly the height of the sea wall.  With the ocean level that high, the 10-15 foot waves rolling in poured right over the sea wall. The video below shows the waves crashing over the wall early in the storm.  It got much worse later in the night, but we lost the footage.

Fortunately, the shutters kept us safe.  However, it was a very long and loud night.  The wind rattled the shutters, even bending the windows as it forced its way through the slats. We slept in the basement next to the garage to escape the noise. This was probably the least safest spot in the house, but the quietest as there were no windows facing the ocean.  With no electric power, we did our best to ignore the hurricane.  Eventually, we fell asleep.


We awoke the next morning to our most surreal morning ever. The side door by the garage had gravel from the front yard piled up against it.  Ironically, the gravel probably added to the protection provided by the sand bags.

sandbags 2 hurricane sandy

We stepped over the gravel and looked at the road at the end of our driveway. Normally, cars were driving up and down the shore.  Instead, sand and debris covered the road.  The unreality of it all began to sink in. With that much sand covering the road to our town, we were going to be on our own for a while.

monmouth beach hurricane sandy

The waves knocked down the fence to our backyard. The water also dragged all of the rocks, sand and pavers from our front landscaping to our backyard and pool.  We had no power, and our cell phones didn’t work.


We began trudging through the sand covered road through town trying to make sense of it all.  Houses were partially collapsed.  Boats that had been in the bay were strewn across front yards all over town.  When we reached Sea Bright by foot, the neighboring town a mile north, we were directed to turn back due to a gas leak.

hurricane sandy boat in yard

We were without power for about the next 12 days.  After a few days, we secured a generator, and a friend wired it to run some basics for our house.  The roads were cleared within a few days and emergency supplies followed.


Lines at the gas stations near the shore were hours long when they eventually opened.  It was a long two weeks waiting for power and for things to get somewhat back to normal.  We were very fortunate that our house had minimal damage other than the landscaping and pool.  Many were not so fortunate and would spend years dealing with rebuilding their home or business.


We survived hurricane Sandy.  Our daughter soon went to work painting New Jersey maps with the slogan “I survived hurricane Sandy” to raise money for relief efforts. She donated all proceeds to Monmouth Beach School, our public school that was closed for six months to rebuild.  She did the same for the Calaveras, CA fires in 2015.  Her website (still under construction, will provide a new platform for her to continue to paint to raise money for other causes in the future.

we survived hurricane sandy

Hurricane sandy was the second costliest hurricane to ever strike the United States.  It resulted in the death of over 200 people in 8 countries.  Rebuilding was very hard on many families and businesses.

A few years later, after most of the shore had recovered, we said good  bye to our New Jersey home and friends.  We made the drive cross-country to our new condo in Encinitas, California (this time a few miles inland from the shore).






beautiful punta san carlos.

beautiful punta san carlos.

A camping and kitesurfing adventure in Punta San Carlos

Phenomenal sunsets! Incredible coastline! Punta San Carlos in Baja Mexico is gorgeous. It’s also a Mecca for outdoor adventure in the form of camping, mountain biking, surfing, kiteboarding, and paddle boarding. However, it’s definitely no luxury beachfront hotel resort with plush rooms and drinks at the swim-up pool bar.

A trip to Punta San Carlos involves driving eight hours south of the border in Baja Mexico. The last two hours are across 60km of a very rocky dirt road. When you arrive, you will need to set up a tent on an exposed windy and sunny cliff unless you have an RV. Either way, you have to truly love extreme sports to end up camping in Punta San Carlos.

dirt road punta san carlos

You will be about three hours from any food, water and supplies so pack wisely. A hat, sunscreen, and deep blue rub were essential for this trip, among other things. You’ll also need to find a way to create some shade in this beautiful barren oceanfront desert cliff. Our jenky tarp set-up helped a little but was no match for the 25mph wind by the third day. We plan to improve our camping game next year with some fence posts to tie our shade to. We also want a Yetti cooler so the ice lasts longer than a few days.

car tarp tent punta san carlos

Despite its proximity, it’s a different world from San Diego, though no less beautiful. Its a destination that can be ranked along with Fiji and Mauritius for perfect kitesurfing wave conditions.  Summer is the best time to catch a perfect south swell with a side-offshore wind. It also has incredible mountain biking trails and stunning sunsets with ALL of the colors!

sunset punta san carlos travel

coastline punta san carlos

Perhaps the best part is that it’s almost free!

Gas and food were our only real costs. We devoured carne asada steaks and tacos cooked on our camping stove after two days of kitesurfing. We also enjoyed a few bottles of wine while we gazed at the amazing sky above the remote seaside cliff.

coast sunset punta san carlos

However, unless you are ready to embark on a serious off-road and extreme sport adventure in Baja Mexico, just enjoy these beautiful pictures that take you away to a better place.

sunset beach punta san carlos

coast punta san carlos

kiteboarding kitesurfing punta san carlos

coast camping punta san carlos

Although, if you decide you have to go there but you don’t want to rough it, check out Solosports. For about $2700, they will fly you in directly from San Diego on a tiny plane for a week stay. They provide a tent camp, three cooked meals, private showers, internet access, a bar, lessons and gear for watersports and mountain biking.

airplane punta san carlos

kitesurfing kiting punta san carlos





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