February 2nd, 2020

A young man I knew called me,

“Is there a chance you could come up sometime soon? I’d really like you to meet this guy. I think you’ll like him.”

And so it was on Valentine’s Day of 2012 that Sonny and I introduced ourselves to each other. I hadn’t been with him more than 15 minutes before I knew we were going to be lifelong friends. There was not going to be any changing of his habits or personality. Sonny was 18, he was set in his ways; you weren’t going to teach him anything, he knew what he knew, he was who he was, and you were either ok with that or you needed to move on and not know him. I liked him from the start.

He was a character. 45 minutes after meeting him I trusted him and he trusted me. That may be hard to understand but guys like Sonny don’t trust many, that’s how he got to where he was. So there we were, we’d been together for just a short time, we were getting along, and we had the beginnings of a relationship. Sonny was confident in himself; a confident horse is a horse a rider can trust. I was comfortable enough that as Sonny walked along I turned in my saddle and let the young man know that Sonny was going to come live with me. As we were discussing the arrangements I felt him begin to wander slightly to the right. When I turned around to ask him where he was going I immediately knew. You see Sonny liked to swim and we were going swimming! I could have scolded him or jerked him back but I let him have his head. I could have stopped him but he knew I gave him that swim. It was a gift from me to him. All these years later I realize it was a gift to both of us.

The horse farms of Ocala, Florida had been his home most of his life. He was a buddy horse to lightning fast race horses. All those years of running so very fast had played havoc with his ankles and arthritis had begun to set in. He was still fast but at 18 had paid his dues; in all the days I knew him I never asked him for full speed. There was no reason, life is better when a little time is taken to enjoy the ride.

He hated cold weather and got quite cranky when the winter winds blew. Even I gave him extra respect when the temperatures dipped into the cold range since I wanted to avoid the wrath of his fury. I didn’t mind; I don’t like cold weather either. Sonny loved champagne, ice cubes, and cold watermelon on a hot summer’s day. He never met an apple or carrot he didn’t like and thought peppermint treats should have been served with every meal.

He had personality, if you got to know him and paid attention his eyes and facial expressions spoke volumes. He could make his stablemate back up with just a glance and when his ears went straight back you knew there was going to be some big trouble. If he lowered his head and looked at you with his big brown eyes your heart couldn’t help but soften.

As I said he was trustworthy. A few years ago my wife wanted to take our young grandson for a ride so I threw them both up on my big sorrel. Big he was. At almost 17 hands when you were up on Sonny you were a long ways up. My beautiful blonde wife and my red and blonde horse were off on my grandson’s first horseback ride. My grandson was frightened at first but after a few trips around the pasture he gained confidence, then he got cocky and stopped holding on to his grandma riding in front of him. As Sonny launched into a slow trot the young boy began to bounce on Sonny’s rump with each bounce taking him closer to falling off. Just as he dropped my wife grabbed his wrist and the momentum swung him under Sonny’s belly. On most horses that would be a very dangerous situation which would likely spook the horse and cause him to trample the child. In the case of the smart and measured Sonny? He locked all 4 legs in a panic stop and didn’t move a muscle. For just a moment everyone was frozen; my wife leaning over with her hand clenched around the grandson’s wrist, the grandson swinging under the belly of a 1,200 pound beast, and Sonny standing like a statue. What happened next I’ll never forget as long as I live…Sonny turned his head, looked back at my wife, and perked his ears forward, there is zero doubt in my mind, his expression could not have been misread, I am quite sure he thought,

“Seriously? I’m walking here. Can you please keep the kid where he belongs?”

We liked each other. The trees surrounding his pastures blocked his view but when he heard me coming from the house he would loudly whinny as he trotted to the corner where he’d first be able to see me emerge from the trees. He’d walk the fence line nickering the entire way as we walked side by side to the gate.

A good horse and a good rider form a bond when riding together. By the end of 2014 a bit never went in his mouth again. It just wasn’t needed. A halter with the lead rope thrown around and tied off to the other side was common but it was only there so the rider had something in their hands. You could steer him with your knees and he’d stop on command. Each and every time he and I went for a ride once I dismounted he would turn and rub his head and neck over my body and face all the while making little cooing sounds. He liked going for a ride with me. Sonny and I were friends.

At 23 years of age we had a hard conversation. I told him his time had come, he had paid his dues, and his days of carrying anyone on his back were over. Even though he was an older horse and not riding him any longer was the right thing to do I think he missed our rides. I know I did. Sonny spent the next three years living a life of leisure, pestering his stablemate, swimming, and lounging in the sun as he so liked to do.

I dug a grave and I buried my friend today.

I had the privilege of your company for 7 years and 353 days. You were one of the great ones. While you may not be here, you will live on forever. You are the horse I will tell about for the remainder of my days.

I’ll miss you. The truth is I already do.

Goodbye Sonny.

“the photos are coming, the photos are coming!”

October 8th, 2008

A few of the other teams have sent us some photos they took during the rally.

As we were traveling along the Natchez Trace we entered a national forest, I can’t remember the name, it was peaceful, quiet and beautiful. This serene scene was shattered by “the mad avaitor” as he is now known. This cropduster appeared between the trees at a altitude of around 20 feet and proceeded to buzz all the cars. Dave remembers seeing in the rearview mirror smoke curling off of all the car’s tires that were behind us. Everybody panicked and stomped on the brakes!

The Mad Avaitor

John Steger is a nice man, a true enthusiast, and a nut. John owns the MG that has doors which close when they feel like it and, even worse, are known to open at highway speeds. A quirky car owned by a quirky guy. We are so very glad we met him. Years from now he’ll bring a smile to our faces each time we think of him.


“Hey John! Your door is open again.”

Door Open

Chris from the Birmingham News

The crazy Germans, Carmen & Holger. They’re back home and have sent us an email. Nice people.

Carmen & Holger

A few fun photos including Dave under the car, Nut #1 and Nut #2 (aka, Ruben & John), us winning the “Iron Butt Award”, and a few others.

Nut #1 and Nut #2

Good times………..


Notes, Photos, and Videos

September 30th, 2008

Well its confirmed, you can’t have more fun while doing something good for others. Its true, we looked it up. We might ramble and jump around a bit here but we want to fill in a few blanks that we couldn’t while on the road.

iPhone, WordPress, And Other Technology: The HP photo printer we purchased to print pictures for the kids at the event worked great. It was spitting out photos as fast as we could put in memory cards. As you may remember all of our posts, and photographs, during the trip to and from, and while on, the rally were created on an iPhone. The technology didn’t work perfectly but it was so close we couldn’t believe it. Many of the posts below were created by Helen while she was sitting in the passenger seat of the 6, traveling 40 to 60 miles per hour out in the middle of nowhere. She’d take the photos then begin to type the entries for the blog. A push of the “upload” button and 99% of the time, presto! Once or twice we had trouble getting cell service so we had to wait just a couple of minutes before we could upload. Amazing technology, we hoped you enjoyed it.

The Birmingham News: Chris Tutor is a reporter for the newspaper who joined us on the run. He is also a car nut, a techno geek, and a great guy to meet. Dave really liked the time he spent with him. The two of them were so engrossed in their conversation about iPhones and vintage sportscars over lunch the first day that we think they would have chatted all day if they had the time. He publishes a blog relating to car events in the Birmingham area and was posting via laptop during the rally. Everytime he was hanging out of the MG he was riding in trying to get THE shot for the paper we thought he was going to die. Once we found out he didn’t have a seatbelt on and the door on the car wouldn’t stay latched we concluded he was just plain nuts. You can view his blog and his postings during the rally by clicking here. He also put together a great video. You can see us and the 6 in it quite a few times. Just hit the “play” arrorw in the center of the screen to make it play:

British Reliability Run 2008

Did you notice the field with the hay in it at the very end of the video? We are the car right in front and if you look close you can see Dave reach over the windshield and take this picture:

Natchez Trace hay field

The Kids & Fundraising: The total tally isn’t in yet but it looks like we’re going to reach our goal and raise around $10,000 for the Magic Moments organization. Thank you! Here is a collage of a few of the photos we took during the event at the hospital. Luke, the little boy we talked about in a previous post, is in the green shirt next to the Bentley.

Collage of kids at Children's Hospital in Birmingham

The Trip To And From: The trailer we used was loaned to us by a man we still haven’t met. It tracked well and Dave’s truck didn’t know it was back there most of the time. We had a small problem getting the night running lights to work, but no biggie. Michael we thank you so very much.

Gas mileage was worse than we expected and therefore expenses were a bit higher. Overall we averaged 8.35 mpg in the truck. Yikes! Total mileage to and from was around 1,500 miles. It was interesting how hard it was to find fuel. We found many stations without any gas at all and many with just mid-grade. Dave actually pulled into one station and pumped 56 cents worth of fuel and then it ran dry. 

We passed a HUGE number of power company trucks heading east on I-10 on the way back. Houston must have had 1,000’s of trucks come from other states to help restore power after the hurricane.

The Rally & The 6: The 6 is back home safe and parked in her spot. She’s never let us down and this trip was no exception. There will be some tinkering with the transmission and hopefully only minor repairs. Overall we think it says a lot about the reliability and condition of our beloved 6 when you consider she is over 34 years old and after 600 hard miles through beautiful hills and countryside she delivered us back to our starting point safe and sound.

Here are a few more photos and a short video clip (hit the play button):

Dave and Helen at hospital


In Tupelo


The People We Met: From Hunter’s Mom who had a tear in her eye when she thanked us for cheering up her son, to John who during the rally gave Helen a small statue of an angel and said, “She’s protected me for years. I want you to have her. She’ll watch over you and your transmission.” The crazy Germans who made the decision they were going to like us even if we were crazy Americans, the others who gave us a warm welcome and a knowing smile; they understood what it was to be far from home and unsure.

The people we met? These people are what Webster was trying to describe when he defined the words “good” and “quality”. These are the people who fill hearts, and make others strive to be better.

How do you describe the feeling you have in your heart when there is an instant bond of friendship between you and another? Then how do you tell others how it feels to leave them and head back home?  



September 29th, 2008

700.9 miles today. We pulled in a few minutes ago. I’m bushed.

Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll post a final wrap up and a bunch of pictures.

Off to bed.

First the rise, now the set

September 29th, 2008

7:02 pm
We started our journey 4 days ago watching the sun rise over Beaumont.
Tonight we are almost in the same location watching it set.

About 100 miles to go.

Cross the Texas State line

September 29th, 2008

6:08 pm
We’re getting close now. About 140 miles to go. Stopping one last time for fuel.

Lunch in Hammond, LA

September 29th, 2008

We’re 1/2 way home. Dave thinks we’re about 7 or 8 hours out. We drove off the expressway into the historic section of town and found a nice old restaurant with an outside courtyard.

Since we’re going downhill from the Alabama hills to the sealevel gulf coast our gas mileage has skyrocketed up from 8.2 mpg to 8.5 mpg. Woo Hoo!

…..getting tired


September 29th, 2008

We’ve been on the road about 4 hours.
We’re outside Jackson, MS

Beautiful sunrise

Rally Finish

September 28th, 2008

We made it!

Hot, tired, sunburned, and happy, well sort of..

We pulled into Birmingham for the finish and a cold drink. We were awarded the highly sought after “Iron Butt Award” due to the length of the drive from Houston. Helen says it’s actually the “buns of steel” award.

Due to our scheduled VERY early departure we opted not to impose on the Greenwoods and grabbed a hotel room. They were so very generous in offering their home but after all they’ve done for us we just couldn’t. You won’t find kinder people anywhere.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to some people who touched our hearts. There were sad smiles that only people who’s lives have been impacted can have. A tear or 2 was shed, promises of a future meet made, and one last pat on the back.

More tomorrow from the road home….

Home stretch

September 28th, 2008

After lunch Dave put the car up on the trailer to make sure everything looked okay.

Just outside Centerville,Al. Beautiful weather, great roads to travel on, nice looking cars, who could ask for more.

For the second time during the rally members of other clubs have met us on the road and driven along side us for a few miles. This time it was silver blue Jag and a blue and white Healey.