Between college semesters and after earning a BA in English literature at the University of Missouri, Columbia (1974), Ray trained for a career as a freelance journalist by working as a busboy in Grand Canyon Village, a cab driver in Washington, D.C., a bicycle messenger in San Francisco, and a commercial river guide in California, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho.
Expedition Adventure Travel:
1971: 400 mile exploration of backcountry trails in the Grand Canyon
1975: Circumnavigation of Northern Lake Michigan by open canoe
1976-1983 Commercial river guide, California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah
1983-1990: Three to five months per year exploring, photographing, and mapping roadless areas on the Colorado Plateau.
1991: Three-month, 700-mile sea kayak voyage following the path of the Exxon Valdez oil spill from Prince William Sound across the open coast of the Gulf of Alaska and around the tip of the Kenai Penninsula to Homer.
1992-1994: Three-stage, 600-mile backpack across the core wildlands of the Colorado Plateau, from Westwater Canyon, Colorado, to Zion National Park, Utah.
1996-1997: Expedition sea kayaking, Isla de La Guardia, Mexico, and Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.
Contributor to: American Heritage, Audubon, Defenders, High Country News, Sierra, Wilderness.
1975: Team member, EPA-funded expedition circumnavigating northern lake Michigan by open canoe to "document the quality of life" on the lake’s islands. (Project Documerica.)
1976-1977: Rephotography—two field seasons locating and matching the panoramas of William H. Holmes on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and in southern Utah
1983: Photodocumentary kayak expedition, riding the spring 1983 flood crest from Provo Lake down the Jordan River and up the eastern shoreline of the Great Salt Lake to record the affects of riverbank flooding and lakeshore dike-innundation.