Happy Trails, Michael…

A wonderful man near and dear to my family passed away on Friday.

We met at The Alisal Guest Ranch outside Solvang, California 30 years ago.

It was love at first sight.

Michael, Louise and their fabulous brood became family during the 17 consecutive Memorial Day weekends we shared.

We laughed, danced, sang, indulged in oatmeal pie, devoured steakum and savored fine wines.

Hours were spent lounging by the pool and riding the range.

We donned proper ranch attire which looked fantastic at The Alisal and ridiculous in the real world, but we were deeply ensconced in The Alisal bubble and happy as pigs in sh-t.

David and I were so enamored with Michael that we asked him to draw up our will and he and Louise were named guardians for our beloved daughter, Courtny.

When Michael’s amazing daughter, Cathy, shared the sad news, my mind conjured up a moving image of Michael sitting dapper and erect on his horse, cowboy hat adorning his head, riding off into the sunset with a mischievous grin, a bottle of fine, vintage red in the left saddlebag and a warm oatmeal pie in the other.

Happy Trails, friendy.

The range has lost a classy cowboy.

The Alisal




  1. Cathy Newman says:

    We loved this blog, even though it made us both cry.

    Thanks for the memories…

    Louise and Cathy

  2. Eduardo Avallone says:

    Michael was my Exchange Student Dad back in 1990.
    He will always be…
    I felt like my own home.
    They gave me love and friendship!
    I was welcomed as a son!
    We became friends, and I won another father, whom I will never forget.
    An extraordinary person, surely, is with God right now!
    Many thanks, Dad Michael, for making such a happy part of my life!
    Your Brazilian son,
    Eduardo Avallone.’.

  3. Joanie Pugh Newman says:

    Thanks for the lovely words, Toby. Those were good times, and happy memories, to be sure.

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