ORLEANS — Fifty paces. That’s all it takes — on a normal day — to cross the boardwalk over the dunes to Nauset Beach. But with Hurricane Sandy bearing down, kicking up sand at a blinding, pelting speed, those 50 paces from the parking lot became a gantlet.
The grains lashed uncovered skin like pinpricks, filled pockets, forced all but the hardiest to turn back. A few squinted, covered their heads, or ran backward, pinballing against the railing and other adventurers, determined to reach the beach. And then down a set of steps: shelter from the sand whipping up above on the boardwalk, and a dramatic, close-up view of whitecaps crashing on the beach. A victory howl, a sigh of relief.