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A trip to Whiting Ranch Park for Mark J. by Melissa Fletcher

Hello everybody,

I just returned from a trip to Whiting Ranch Park in Trabuco Canyon.  It was a solo drive, with many tears shed.  I know the team and friends of Mark J. will be planning a memorial ride, but I felt like I wanted to do something today.

This morning, I got up and pulled out an old mtn. bike tire.  I then decorated it with flowers, hot glued directly to the side walls.  Yellow ribbons were attached, as well as a note card saying "Good bye, Mark J.  We miss you.  Love, your teammates."

From the on-line news articles I had been reading in the Orange County Register, I knew the park was closed indefinitely, pending a full investigation, but was pretty confident that I would be able to place this tire wreath at one of the gates.  I was met by a couple of rangers as I pulled into the gate area.  Between chokes of tears, I stated why I was there, and of course, they told me, I could tie the wreath to one of the wooden fence posts.

I told Genie, one of the rangers, that we wanted to do a memorial ride sometime in the near future.  She gave me the name of the head ranger and said that she thought he would be quite accommodating.  Genie also told me about how once one of their rangers had died and that there was a tree planting in his memory.  She seemed to think that this type of memorial, or a bench, was certainly a possibility.

After taking a few photos of the wreath and giving Genie one more hug, I climbed into my car.  I then dialed Mark J.'s cell phone and left him one last message.  I told him about the wreath and that we planned to do a ride for him soon.  And then said good bye.

Until we get together for our final good bye to Mark J...... Fletch