Typically, no matter where I wonder in the world I take a morning walk to start my day. Last Wednesday, I happened to be on my normal route through Heisler Park and the Main Beach Boardwalk in Laguna Beach, California when something quite unusual began to unfold.
As I approached the stairs leading down to the boardwalk, a line of CHP motorcyles first lined up and parked in a two column formation right next to the Life Guard building at the bottom of the stairs from Heisler Park. They looked like they were in a staging pattern for a parade ride or an escort of some kind. I thought to myself when I get down these stairs I am going to take a few clicks of this scene.
But just as I began to descend the stairs a column of bikes began to slowly ride off and I thought, well there went my big chance. But instead of pulling onto PCH the lead bike slowly made its way down the boardwalk as all the other highly attractive CHP motorcycles followed as did virtually every eyeball on the beach. I noticed cell phones in front of faces to my left and my right but I also noticed that everyone was keeping their distance as far as the ideal shot was concerned. But they were in my direct path and I had to get the perfect angle of these CHP motorcycles lined-up along the boardwalk with the beautiful ocean side day blooming in the background.
As I moved in a crouched down to get the angle I wanted for my shot, an Officer started to make her way back towards her bike and said, are you about to get the shot? To which I replied, I sure am. She then asked if I would take a few with her camera and I happily said, Yes out loud, while in my head I was like, “Are you kidding me, I am the photographer extraordinaire, Don West, Jr., it is what I do, yes, yes, let me capture this special moment as a work of art for you.” Then, unexpectedly, with a voice that boomed like Gunny Sgt. Whitfield when he was yelling at me for something back in my Navy ROTC days, Officer Handley barked, “Line Up.”
This here is something you are not gonna see every day. In honor of California Highway Patrol Officer Melissa Handley’s retirement, Wednesday was her last day after 24 years on the job, (most as CHP’s only female motorcycle officer), the squad makes one last ride to wherever she wants them to go, at the time of the 📸‘s their current destination was Main Beach Boardwalk in Laguna Beach, CA.
(After leaving the beach, I only had Officer Handley’s last name and wasn’t sure where the squad was from. I did a Google search and found this awesome video done by CHP- South Los Angeles that details the heroine nature of Officer Hundley and her 24 years with CHP. Enjoy!)
I shared with Officer Handley that my mom had recently retired as a elementary school principal, [in Huntsville, Alabama] and Handley said, congratulations to my Mom on her recent retirement as well.
So, @shotsbydubbs Photography was there to get the snap 📸 for Officer Handley on her phone and of course I grabbed a few on my #redhydrogenone. It took me a couple days to get a little post-production processing done in Adobe Lightroom CC to get these shots ready for this post. Honored to meet Officer Handley under the circumstance of celebrating her inspiring and trailblazing ride as a member of the CHP motorcyle corp. Congratulations to Handley and a heartfelt thank you to her for 24 years of service to our community and to all first-responders who serve us every day. I also send an early Happy Veterans Day to all my brothers and sisters of the American Armed Forces from a fellow non-combat Navy vet. These are the best captures of the impromptu opportunity to brush up against and shoot a part of California history.