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Old 05-23-2007, 02:10 PM   #1
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Dennis Steven Carner Memorial Ride - Lots of Pictures

The Dennis Carner Memorial Ride Report



A great man died last Wednesday – My father in law, Dennis Carner, of Casa Grande Arizona passed away after a long and valiant struggle with a disease that few even know about. He was a great and unassuming man with a grand spirit and a supremely tranquil demeanor. Part American Indian his love for nature and especially the desert was a joy to behold.

On Monday May 14th, 2007 my wife got the call she was so dreading – “You need to come now,” Her step mother told her over the phone “He wants to see you right away.”

You see Dennis was suffering from a disease that slowly deteriorates the lungs ability to pass oxygen from the air we breathe into the red blood cells of the body. The disease is hereditary so Dennis had known what to expect in terms of longevity as he’d watched other family members suffer and succumb to its ravages. Dennis wasn’t supposed to die last Wednesday – he had a few more years – but because his lungs were so weak he was unable to recover from a surgery for kidney stones. His blood oxygen levels were very low after he came out of sedation. His blood oxygen level continued to fall thereafter.

Now because Dennis was a noble man and a man of principles and action, he did not want to allow doctors to keep him alive by “machine”. He would not allow an air way to be artificially created with a tube down his throat to prolong the inevitable and he didn’t want to have his life lengthened pointlessly.

Dennis thought the point of his life – his daughter and his son – had been well made indeed. Dennis proudly loved his children.

I put my wife on a plane an hour after the call and I stayed behind to make arrangements for the looking after of our four kids. After all was well with them I got a little sleep, loaded up the GSA and took off for Casa Grande at 2:00 A.M. I drove straight there with very few (maybe three) stops.

It was a blessing to have those precious hours with Dennis. We visited until the Morphine and pain medications the wonderful people at Hospice used to moderate his pain took him to a place we could not go. A dozen hours later he took his last breath in this world. We all had a great cry. My wife’s heart was broken in two for the man she first loved.

Dennis moved on in his noble way…

Dennis was to be memorialized that following Saturday. Unfortunately I was required to be in town by Saturday at noon to take care of some business for my wife.

I decided to leave Thursday morning and make a two day trip out of my return. I told my wife, “I’m going to take dad for a ride.”

Leaving the morning of was tough and I road north with a heavy, heavy heart.

I had spent some of the previous night pouring over maps of Arizona to find a remote path – to show Dennis some countryside he had not yet explored. I felt a very palpable presence as I rode and I believe in my heart that Dennis was riding pillion.

I started out riding north out of Phoenix on HWY 60. Stop and go and stop and go and suddenly – Freeway!




I drove a little bit but had to stop to plug my IPod into the power outlet. Stopping at the first rest stop I came across I continued to notice how nice Arizona rest stops are. Good roads and nice rest stops really define Arizona in my opinion. It makes travel very comfortable. Heck at this one I learned a little about Mesquite trees and the local flora and fauna – I always have time to be educated.








I got back on the road – tunes on! – and made it into Wickenburg to see the sights. Seeing a Catholic Church (St. Anthony of Padua) with the same name as one where I live I stopped to take some pictures.




I found an old steam engine and took a not-so-good picture of it. I was parked sideways across a couple of parking stalls in the downtown area sitting on my bike getting the shot when a police officer drove by… well you know that this sort of criminal activity is probably the biggest thing this guy was going to see all day so I didn’t tempt fate by lingering too much longer… thus my shot is mediocre at best.



I got back on the road and soon HWY 60 turned into HWY 93 (Joshua Tree Forest Parkway of Arizona) and as I passed HWY 71 a few miles I came on to the first of what I’d hoped to be many dirt roads I was going to ride on this trip. From the map this road would lead me out into the desert, past Alamo Reservoir and into Yucca – all over dirt. Like most plans, they are short lived after execution, but more on that later.





Riding very cautiously at first – my fully laden GSA wasn’t going to give me much sympathy if I treated her wrong in the sand – I quickly got a handle on the terrain and started making good time. I stopped a few times to call my wife to make sure she was okay and to give her a progress report. The desert and sky were absolutely breathtaking out here.




The road was graded fairly decently with some gravel imbedded into the dirt and some long sandy washes to keep me on my toes – or really, keep me sitting back on the pillion seat with my right wrist twisted hard to raise the front wheel and 7.5 gallons of gas out of the soft stuff.






After a couple of “oh my God” moments I crossed over the La Paz County line.


WOW! My hat is off to the La Paz County Road crews. The road went from nicely graded, to perfectly graded and four lanes wide.




Still the sand, no matter how you grade it, was deep in places, but all in all I was standing on the pegs in fifth gear with a grin from ear to ear. I came across a handy kiosk telling me where the heck I was.






My GPS was useless as I don’t have maps loaded for the area (besides major roads) so I was riding through digital nothingness there. My maps which are visible in my handy dandy map holder here-








were very useful and helped me make good decisions about the many trail turn offs along the way.

I stopped to take some pictures of Dennis’ favorite plants – mainly cacti. I think he liked them because they are so hardy and stand so hard against the odds of the desert. I have always found them rough and beautiful.






The sun playing through the clouds... Dennis check this out!


Up on the pegs again, riding without a care, in the middle (literally) of nowhere I see a mirage in the desert. Turns out this mirage is a huddled mass of about 40 trailers and motor homes nestled into a ten or so acre plot called, “Wayside”.




I noticed the sign saying there was a store and just about that time my camelback had given me it’s last draught so I turned in to see the place.



I parked in front of the bar/restaurant/store/bait shop/ office and walked inside… ahhhhh… air conditioning felt great. I met the new owner of the place (he told me he’d only signed the papers for the place two weeks ago). His name was Larry and he was as cool as they come. A good ol’ boy from Colorado he sported a Vietnam Veteran ball cap and a wry sense of humor. Larry’s wife (who’s name escapes me unfortunately) came out and introduced herself. Larry looked at my haircut and said “You in the military?” I was, I said – former Marine. He looked at me for a second (he was ex-army I could tell) as though establishing whether this was okay with him and then said, “Well good for you. I appreciate it.”

We talked some and he asked me where my adventure was taking me. I told him about my plans to ride over the bridge on the north side of the Alamo Reservoir – he gave me another look and said, “Ain’t no bridge and I think the road is just like quick sand over there. The locals have warned me not to go up there with my horses.”

I showed him my maps and how it appeared there was a bridge over there and he said I’d better check with Carl the old owner of Wayside. He’d know whether there’s a crossing. Turns out Carl lived in a trailer at the park – last trailer on the right, the brown one was the directions Larry gave. I bought a gallon of water and paid for the soda I drank and thanked Larry and his wife for the company.

Nice people.

I road to Carl’s trailer – a small 15’ towed affair that did not appear to have any air conditioning at all – and knocked on the door. A old man in a cowboy hat answered the door.

“You Carl?” I asked.

“Yep.” Was the answer.

I explained my selected route and he listened quietly. After I was done he pushed his head further out the small door to look at my bike. He looked back and me, shook his head twice, and said, “Not on that bike. It’s nothing more than a muddy swamp over that way. You’re too heavy.”

Damn! I was hoping for better news.

Carl said the only way for me was to take the slab to Wenden and then 72 to 95 past Parker if I wanted to get to Needles.

Slab? Double Damn!

I thanked him hopped on and dejectedly road down a short dirt road leading to the blacktop. The more I road the more I thought and the more I thought the more adamant I became that this couldn’t be! I can’t be turned back like this – I am on an adventure after all! So instead of taking the route Carl had detailed I drove to the Alamo Ranger Station… now here I would get the good news I was hoping for right?! Well read on.

Alamo Reservior




I walked in and saw two rangers. One was wearing the regulation garb with regulation long pants and regulation badge and although slightly overweight he looked like any other ranger you’ve met. The other guy, Kevin, was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirts and a funky desert campaign cover. I felt like adventure news was more likely going to come from the, shall we say, less well dressed ranger.

Talking to Kevin about the north side he asked if I had a “dirt bike.”

A dual sport, I replied… hopefully.

He said, “You’ll be fine” and started to tell me about the route. But even though he was optimistic about my chances the route he described – part of it being riding down the river bed for about 100 yards – didn’t seem like my pigs cup of slop.

To add to my dismay, the other ranger looked outside and said, “Your bikes’ got no business going that way.”

Kevin looked out and also shook his head and agreed with his partner.

I must have looked pretty dejected because Kevin asked what my goal was. I told him I was trying to stay mostly on the dirt while on my way to Mojave tonight. He said he had just the ticket; a power line road that lead into Parker. He showed me on his map and burned a copy of it so that I could take it with me.

I was off after thanking them for their help. Kevin gave me his card saying “In case you break down.” I laughed at the thought – I mean hell, I’m on a BMW after all…







I road some quick, twisty, and rather tasty slab to get to the power line road.




It started off really nice and hard packed with gravel imbedded.



That was short lived as the elevation dropped and into long and deep washes I went. The sand was 4-7 inches deep in spots and powdered sugar – scary on this bike I tell you. Rough going for a bit as the graded road would give way to invisible graded sand washes at a moments notice.







I have never ridden in such deep sand as this with any motorcycle ever. I learned a heck of a lot about it I tell you. It actually became quite a fun challenge and I began to really enjoy it. Wrestling 700 pounds of motorcycle and gear through the sand isn’t easy, but I proved to myself this day that I could do it.

A few shots of the various species growing along the route:








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Old 05-23-2007, 02:11 PM   #2
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More...

After a gate and a few more miles of powder the elevation increased and the road turned back into hard packed, speed inducing, fun.









The scenery was spectacular and the weather was a really nice 95 degrees.

















I came upon another handy kiosk that gave information and a local map of the area.





Turns out General Patton used this area to prepare for his desert campaign of World War II. Pretty entertaining reading here.


I took some more pictures of the local inhabitants.






I adventured on – in other words, I took a wrong turn and ended up at trails end.



















But not to worry; trails end was a nice place to be right then.












I took some pictures and stripped off my gear to cool down in the river. Just what I needed.



I backtracked a few miles and took the right turn. Along the way I found what one always seems to find in the middle of the desert; an old crashed car, full of bullet holes.





Riding along another wonderfully graded road I came across another informational kiosk detailing the Central Arizona Project.




I came upon a paved road and a cell signal so I called the other half to let her know where I’d taken dad today. We both had a great time talking and she shared with me her day and afterwards I saddled up and was off and running.







I came into Parker



and stopped for gas where Hwy 62 and 95 intersect. I popped my maps out of my “map holder” and began perusing them as I sipped some cold water from my camelback. A motorist was watching me as he filled his car up. Since I had my maps out I must be lost, right? The guy comes over and says, “You lost?”

I replied, “Lost? Heck I don’t have my GPS turned on, how could I get lost. If I want to get lost I flip the switch and Bang I’m lost.”

He didn’t get it and began telling me how to get to Needles from there. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciated his help and was happy to be in a town where people didn’t shy away from helping someone they thought needed it. I just listened closely to what he said and thanked him very much for his advice.

This is a view from where I was parked. Look at the size of that flag! It was huge. If you compare it to the relative size of the building it was flying over you get a perspective of its size. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside – patriotic from my Arai to my Tourmasters!




After that it was getting too dark to take pictures of anything really so I blasted up through Lake Havasu and north to Needles. When I got to Needles my stomach was bitching at me so I stopped to knock it back into submission at Denny’s where I was served by one of the nicest and one of the weirdest waitresses ever.

I moved on past the east side of Mojave and into Searchlight and then west to just shy of Baker where I took a side road off into the desert and found a nice comfy plot of sand to bed down for the night. It was 1145 PM and I been riding non-stop for the most part since 1045 AM that morning. I was pooped.

I lay my tarp down, then my ground pad, then my sleeping bag and folded half of the tarp over the top of me and ZZZZZZZZzzzz…

I woke up at 7 AM and had some breakfast and some water. I packed up my home and got back on the road by 8 AM.





I made it to Baker for gas, water, and another power bar and then road north on Hwy 127 towards my days target; Death Valley.



Dennis, this is going to be another awesome day!










More in a bit…





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Old 05-23-2007, 02:44 PM   #3
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Old 05-24-2007, 08:30 AM   #4
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Death Valley and beyond...

To Death Valley… And beyond.






My day began in saddle, riding north on Hwy 127 out of Baker. My intention was to ride into and through Death Valley using the Henry Wade Exit Route I’ve read so much about. I’d never been on it so I really didn’t know what to expect.

I saw my target on my maps and knew I was getting close when I came across a nice pull off with a kiosk detailing the Mojave Desert and its ecosystem and boundaries. It was a very informative stop and provided me with an even stronger sense of beauty and purpose for my desert route.














The sun and the sky this morning were heaping strong emotions on me as I traversed underneath them. I still remember the unconditional sense that Dennis was looking over my shoulder; that Dennis was enjoying my company as I was his. I stopped often to take pictures and to take in the wonder of it all as I rejoiced in the silky sheen the covered all that I perceived. I listened intently to the rhythm of the subtly moving air as I passed through it along the roadway. I felt that I could lose myself to the melodies…





When I came upon the marker I stopped to re-read it. I have passed this way on a few occasions – each time re-reading the plaque – but never have I traveled the route. Today was going to be the day.



Let’s go.

The road – for those of you who still wonder – is a nicely graded road with imbedded gravel mixed with some sandy washes and beautiful scenery. This morning was turning out to be ideal as the temperature rose to the mid eighties in a short time and rose further as I closed in on the southern area of Death Valley.






I stopped for a bit to… release some water… and to take in the vastness of where I was. It makes you feel infinitesimal in a good way. I relished in the thought that Dennis and I were probably the only two that had traveled this way today.





I stopped at the turn off to Sarasota Springs. I didn’t explore down that path but am determined to next time I pass this way.



The desert and its vastness and the sand and the plants that fight to fill it.







I was dropping elevation pretty quickly and the temperature was climbing pretty fast. No problem – I’ll take 100 degrees over 50 any day – hot weather is good for me.



I rode on over some nice graded stuff moving along at a good clip. Every once in a while a sandy wash would catch me off guard and remind me who was boss; the boss being the big pig of a bike below me and the whim of mother nature.













I never dropped my bike but it wasn’t for lack of trying; a few near misses.










One section I was riding along at about 45 MPH standing on my pegs – king of the world style – when all of the sudden the rear end wants to become my front end. The wash I’d gotten into was so long I wasn’t sure when it would end. For what seemed like an entire minute I wrestled the pig and gassed it and sat back as far as I could. I made it through the wash without a scratch but with this thought…













Because I’m giving her the spurs trying to raise the front end I am increasing my speed. Thus the longer I “save” it from crashing and if I DO crash it will be at a faster and faster speed for every moment I “save” it. Hmmm… a dilemma no?



Anyway I digress.









I made it to blacktop and the end of the exit route.



More later... thank you for reading.
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:26 AM   #5
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I'm sorry for your loss.. a great way to honor a great person.. thanks for the outstanding pics and report

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Old 05-24-2007, 09:30 AM   #6
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I'm sorry for your loss.. a great way to honor a great person.. thanks for the outstanding pics and report


Thanks GB!
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Old 05-24-2007, 10:09 AM   #7
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The first stop for me was the Ashford Mill Ruins; an old gold ore processing station.






I took a nice walk amongst the ruins and tried to imagine the hard life those miners must have had in the heat and the sand of Death Valley. I took some photos through the portals they would have looked through to try and understand the views they saw everyday.






It’s interesting to see these ruins and the way the desert reclaims itself through the years.











I arrived at the turnoff of the West Side Road. I’ve never been this way and I knew it was all dirt – I was there for adventure and there it was staring me in the face.






A decent road and nicely graded with some treacherous sections of loose rocks over a sandy base. It was non-the-less a great experience.






Some roadside attractions kept my camera busy.





Elevation and temperatures lowered and rose respectively.



Driving along in Death Valley the last thing one expects to see is water or evidence for it. These roads look absolutely soaked with water and greenery abounds along the edges in some places.



It’s surreal. If you’ve never been here, you should come. It is an exercise in extremes that will not disappoint.












Yours Truly… I couldn’t resist.




I came upon the Eagle Borax Works site and stopped for a closer look.


The site isn’t anything more than some mounds and a kiosk – again the desert reclaiming what it was – but the story of the works is an interesting read and the grounds around it are beautiful… an oasis in Hell.












Less elevation, more temperature.




Looking north


Looking south


Looking East along West Side Road.


Some of the mountains and ranges.




I road to the Furnace Creek area and stopped to buy two more gallons of water and a soda. I was drinking my soda under the shade of the trees there and standing by my bike when a fellow who parked his car across the parking lot walked up to me.

“Crappy day to ride huh?” He starts off.
I kind of cocked my head to side and said, “No it’s just about perfect.”

That stopped him in his tracks for a few seconds and I took another pull on my soda.

“Well that things water cooled isn’t it?” pointing to the pig.

“Air and Oil actually.”

“Oh, well mine is air cooled and it doesn’t do so well in the heat that’s all.” He says.

“An air cooled beemer?” I asked thinking he’s got an airhead and we could talk about it.

“No – Harley.”

“Oh” I say and unsure what to say next I just pull another draw from my soda.

The man just walks away without another word. Strange. I’m not a Harley fan but I do see many of them riding in the heat and the cold so I don’t know why his “doesn’t do well.” I suspect it’s him who doesn’t do well…

After about ten minutes I’m getting my gear pulled back on when – speak of the Devil – four Harley’s pull up and park. The riders are all dressed in what I call Harley AGATT; in other words short sleeved shirts, short pants and sandals. One of the riders has his helmet strapped around his forearm, dangling. Thank goodness too because you know how much forearm injuries can hurt if you crash on boiling hot pavement!

The Harley guys walk past me without returning my nod – whatever – and I ride north and out of the Valley over Towne Pass.

I did stop to take some pictures of the Dunes near Stovepipe Wells…







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Old 05-24-2007, 10:26 AM   #8
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Death Valley- Tioga Pass

I drove across Panamint Valley and then north on the dirt towards this feature I can’t remember the name of – but it’s beautiful and I’ve never gotten closer than passing by on Hwy 190.



I found the obligatory cars, shot to death in an apparent murder suicide!




This road is flat and sandy with occasional deep ruts to wheelie over – fun stuff!





I road west on Hwy 190 towards Lone Pine. Tioga Pass just opened recently and I wanted to be the first kid on my block to go over it!






The desert colors were outrageous over this side of the mountain ranges and I took copious photos.






When I pulled into Lone Pine I spied this ol’ girl resting comfortably – noted the Ohlin’s suspension and got all jealous. Anyone here?!


I continued on after stopping at the local store for a soda and, you guessed it, more water (I drank around 6 gallons of water over this two day trip – Hydrate or die!). Nice roads, beautiful scenery, and plenty of CHP patrolmen to keep giving you that “oh crap” adrenaline dump as you haul it down from extra legal speeds.
















Through Big Pine and Bishop and past some fun looking OHV areas I come upon this – whew!




I start to climb up and over and I take in the beauty as well as take pictures. There is water everywhere from the melting snow and every single stream and river is filled to overflowing.










The temperatures are falling and falling fast. I decided to put my liner under my jacket and that took the chill off of me just enough for me.

Some of the peaks with their dustings…





I came down through Yosemite but didn’t stop for many pictures. The traffic was SLOW! And every time I’d stop I get behind an even slower RV or some other monstrous vehicle who’s driver didn’t get the “slower traffic use turn out” concept. So these are really it.











I exited the park through El Portal and then back to Oakhurst and down Hwy 41 to Clovis and home. I ended the trip with a total mileage of 1789 miles with a moving time of just over 24 hours according to my handy GPS.

My GS needs its 6K service (Odometer now reads 5998) and my Tourances are well and fully shot to hell.

Dennis, I love you and miss you greatly. My heart is broken for the loss of your laughter and wit but I know that you were with me on our great adventure and I know that you are watching over your girl today and proud of her and what she has become. I am happy to have known you and called you my father – I will fulfill my promise to you come hell or high water to love and cherish your daughter from now until forever.

May we meet again when the sands are warm and the sun is high and we have forever to ride underneath the blue sky.


James.
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Old 05-24-2007, 03:14 PM   #9
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well written and with SUCH heart. Thank you SO much for sharing!
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Old 05-24-2007, 03:27 PM   #10
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Great report and tribute. thanks.
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Old 05-24-2007, 03:31 PM   #11
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Thanks fellas'

Thank you -


The ride and text and photos were a theraputic way to deal with my feelings...
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Old 05-24-2007, 04:37 PM   #12
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Old 05-24-2007, 05:10 PM   #13
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A beautiful tribute and ride report.

I do understand.

Having lost my father in law, but without the chance to say goodbye, I do understand. When we are blessed to have a man of dignity and grace as a father in law, it is a beautiful thing.


They are immortalized by living forth in our sustained memories and thoughts.


Bones
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Old 05-25-2007, 07:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by GS Bones
A beautiful tribute and ride report.

I do understand.

Having lost my father in law, but without the chance to say goodbye, I do understand. When we are blessed to have a man of dignity and grace as a father in law, it is a beautiful thing.


They are immortalized by living forth in our sustained memories and thoughts.


Bones

Amen to that.
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AFM #993 Come out and support the sport of motorcyling; attend an AFM Race Weekend!

Death Valley Ride(s) Rock

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1991 Honda NC30 (Racing sweetness) #993
2007 R1200GS Adventure: King of the World IMHO
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:24 PM   #15
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Thank you for the thoughts

I have recieve a ton of PM's expressing regards and well wishes. I would like to publicly thank all of you who have. I appreciate this community and it's thoughtful adventure spirit.


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1991 Honda NC30 (Racing sweetness) #993
2007 R1200GS Adventure: King of the World IMHO
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