Pre-sunrise contrail turns back time

As a child, an airplane’s contrails mesmerized me. Laying in the grass, I’d stare up at the sky and track their formation — and eventually watch them dissipate. Indications that travel was taking place (at super high speeds), I’d pass hours guessing where everyone was going.

Fast forward a few years, I earned my commercial pilot’s license in my late twenties and flew right seat for a commuter airline. I helped transport passengers all over Florida, the Bahamas, San Juan, and the British Virgin Islands. I dogged thunderstorms, dealt with all types of passengers, and enjoyed many spectacular sunrises and sunsets. I learned how contrails were created — and created quite a few myself.

I no longer fly professionally. I have great memories (and stories) from those days. And I don’t have any regrets about hanging up my wings (well, not too many).

The other morning, just before sunrise, right as darkness was lifting from the night sky, the contrail featured in this post caught my eye. Initially, I kept walking. Then suddenly, I was compelled me to turn around — it was like an overwhelming feeling that I was about to miss out on something. When I stopped and took the contrail, its distancing creator, the dawn sky, and desert landscape into focus, I became Little Ray again. Yes, the same me, laying in the back yard — granted, with a bit more life experience under my belt — still wondering to myself, “where are y’all going so early?”

Strolling with unborn child on Hanalei Bay

While vacationing in Hanalei Bay on Kauai in 2011, I was snapping pics of the sunset — and totally didn’t realized what I’d accidentally captured until I got home. It’s a Facebook memory that pops up ever year — one that tugs at my heart strings. To this day, I often wonder who this woman is, who her child became, and where they are today. Needless to say, I’d love to find her and share this captured moment with her.

Heavy Heart Welcomes 2021’s Last Desert Sunrise

Palm Springs, CA 6:44:50 AM, Twin Palms Drive @ South Palm Canyon Rd.

I’m one of those people that loves summer. Guilty. And while I’m flooded with great memories of summers spent in Chicago and Richmond as a child, I’ve grown to love the insanely intense summers in Palm Springs.

I’ve romanticized the summer months since I was a child. Even through my twenties, thirties, and forties — when summer vacations were practically non-existent due to work and other adult things — I found a way to LOVE mid-June through mid-September. You can keep the fall leaves, first snowfall, change of seasons, sweaters, spring flowers, bla, bla, bla. Just give me long summer nights where the sun doesn’t set until 8:20 PM, hot and steamy days, fireflies, the smell of Coppertone, outdoor music — and I’m a happy camper. Add a roadtrip to the mix; I’m in heaven.

As I took this picture at the corner of South Palm Canyon @ E La Verne Way around 6:45 AM, I suddenly regressed into that 10-year old boy overcome with the confusing feelings that accompany the harsh summer-end reality.

San Francisco’s Pier 30-32 transforms into COVID-19 testing center

In the early morning hours of April 4 or 5 (it’s hard to remember now), I noticed crews working on the rain-soaked pier south of the Bay Bridge — just beyond the High Dive Bar and Red’s Java House — across the street from the Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center. Although the pre-dawn skies filled with drizzle and fog made it hard to see exactly what was going on, a cluster of orange cones and three distinct (albeit incomplete) steel-framed structures were unmistakable. By the time the sun had risen over the Oakland hills and my second cup of coffee had been poured, it was easy to see that a COVID-19 testing center was going up.

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