Robert Schork on Westchester Mag’s Travel Stories

Hurricane Sandy and smoke detectors and their effects



For me, one of the best parts of travel is the stories brought back to amuse your friends, family, and co-workers. For this issue’s fall getaways cover story, the editors fanned out across the Northeast to report on 13 great weekend destinations. Thankfully, Mother Nature smiled on most of us, although she doled out a few weather-related tales. Editorial Assistant Scott Simone’s trip to Burlington, Vermont, included a sailing excursion on Lake Champlain, which took a suddenly stormy turn. “It started to thunder and lightning on the way back into dock, and the waves started picking up—we actually had to motor back,” says Scott. “As soon as we docked, it became hurricane-like weather: downpouring, falling branches, waves crashing against the dock. This, just after the captain took us to different spots of the lake to show us where ships have wrecked in the past from stormy conditions.”

I was forced to cut short my trip to Cape Cod by a day thanks to a girl named Sandy. After watching a well-meaning anchor on The Weather Channel earnestly present a dozen different possible trajectories for the impending superstorm, I naively concluded there was a negligible chance I had anything to worry about. That is, until two days later, when I woke up to find the water violently whitecapping in Provincetown Harbor—500 miles away from the storm’s location. I suddenly felt like I was in an episode of The Amazing Race meets Storm Chasers, as I turbo-boosted my way back to Westchester (and headfirst into Sandy)—unknowingly crossing the state line into New York mere minutes before Connecticut closed its highways.

“Bad weather” played a key role in another feature in this issue. Deputy Creative Director Halina Sabath wanted to bring some of it indoors, by way of a fog machine she and photographer Patrik Andersson intended to use in our photo studio for our fall fashion preview. But the fire department extinguished their plans when they informed us it was verboten to temporarily disable our smoke alarms (which can be set off by fog machines) while the shoot was in progress. Halina and Patrik managed an 11th-hour relocation of the shoot to a studio in Brooklyn, where they could unleash fog to their hearts’ content. “For me it was about doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible images,” says Halina. “Whenever a photographer has a strong feeling about something—like Patrick’s idea to use fog—I always support it.” 

photo by Halina WekerThe shoot’s fashion stylist, Kathy Kalafut, says the only catch was the studio’s size. “It was a tight squeeze for a crew of 11, and 39 bags of clothing and accessories. But Omar, Conner, and Jay got to work on hair and makeup, Patrik fired up the fog machine, and, when I saw the first image on the computer monitor, I got chills.”

Hairstylist Omar Roth insists this shoot “was probably the most fun since I did Anna Nicole Smith for the famous cover titled ‘White Trash Nation’ for New York magazine a long time ago. Patrick’s idea of working with fog was brilliant—it gave the entire set a feeling of mystery, which really influenced my creativity. I felt like I wanted to bring something tasteful yet out-of-the-ordinary to our audience.”

If only we could control the atmosphere for our fall getaways like we do for our fall fashion! Here’s to great weather for your own autumn excursions. Safe travels.

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