The Mules and the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM

The Mules have found themselves at what is showing itself to be a point of energy gathering, intensifying, and seeking expression in the unforeseen. The Mules have been given a word sound to identify this place of time and circumstance in which we find ourselves CALL-DUN-DRUM. A place, a condition of confusion, uncertainty, disorder, neglect that’s seeking to settle rest, acquire resolution for itself.

By using the Mules as a gathering tool, this place has brought many players to its realm. Listed below are the many players who the Mules have contacted in regards to the I-5 Call-Dun-Drum (excluded from list is Camp Pendleton Access Control office and regional physical security officer Nick Moran who we also spoke with on the phone).

The Mules entered this I-5 call-dun-drum on the day we were arrested on February 23, 2018 and while in its grasp using us the Mules a common-sense practical solution has made itself known. A CHP escort for the 3 Mules and all equestrians seeking passage from Harbor Boulevard in Oceanside to the Old Pacific Coast Highway bike trail start at Los Pulgas on the I-5 call-dun-drum can be made readily available.

CHP provides escorts all the time slowing traffic by using its flashing blue and red lights when stopping a motorist, picking up dangerous debris which has fallen from a truck, responding to an accident. This common-sense practical temporary solution granted upon request within a one hour period can be in effect until the obvious more permanent solution being a parallel path where equestrians, hikers and bicycles can move safely separated from the irresponsible high-speed motorist. For the State of California, CHP and Caltrans to use the false pretense of safety when a simple common-sense remedy is in plain view and deny the Mules and all other equestrians the right to move freely in this country using the public thoroughfare is illegal and unconstitutional.

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Little Girl’s Annual Physical Exam Health Report

Pictured left to right: Zoe, Arlene, Jessica, and Andrea with Little Girl

On Monday morning, Little Girl received her annual physical exam. The Mules want to thank Arlene for arranging San Dieguito Equine Group team – Jessica (veterinarian), Andrea (Registered Vet Technician and dental care provider) and Zoe (vet assistant)- to come out to give Little Girl her check-up. Here is write up that we received after Little Girl’s exam:“Little Girl had a physical exam and she was found to be a healthy, bright and alert 28-year old Molly mule. She has a good appetite, healthy skin and body coat and has a good body condition score of 5/9 (normal). Her feet were in good shape and it’s apparent she receives regular farrier work. Her teeth were floated and equilibrated – she has amazingly good dental health for a mule her age and only needed moderate dental work. She was prescribed anti-inflammatories (like Advil) for two days after her dental work for preventative measure due to her older age.

Coincidentally, the same morning that Little Girl had her scheduled physical exam, The San Diego Union-Tribune published an opinion piece titled Homeless mule should not suffer owner’s bad choices.” The Letter to the Editor stated:

 Re “Traveler reunited with stolen mule in Escondido” (Feb. 26): I saw John Sears and his mule, Little Girl, Feb. 18 walking down Melrose Avenue. I drove by, my eyes on his overly burdened mule trailing behind him.
For those that may think his lifestyle is adventurous, I see it differently. Sears’ decision to live on the streets forces Little Girl to also do so, showing no concern for her well-being.
Later, coming out of a market on Melrose, there was Sears and Little Girl. I asked Sears about the weight she was carrying. I cringed when she kept picking up her back feet as we humans do when experiencing discomfort or pain. I looked into her face, such a sadness.
Little Girl is neither safe from Sears or from people who take her in the middle of the night. Glamorizing Sears and his way of life ignores the welfare of Little Girl.
Karen Bonadio

We sent the article to Andrea, the Registered Veterinarian Technician who cleaned Little Girl’s teeth. She sent us her response that she wrote the San Diego Union-Tribune about that opinion as she feels that it is important for people who don’t know anything about mules and horses to understand.
 Dear Union Staff:
I am hoping that you can post this in response to the opinion piece regarding the mule Little Girl and her owner.
I am a Registered Veterinarian Techinican that works at an equine veterinary practice here in the Escondido/San Marcos area. I work strictly with horses and have been doing so for over 15 years. I can understand where someone who does not have equid experience may see Little Girl and feel sorry for her. Myself as well as two of my colleagues were lucky enough to visit with Little Girl the other day for a vet health check up. She was given a general health check and she had her teeth floated and equilibrated. Mr. Sears had a lengthy conversation with the veterinarian regarding her health and other questions he had regarding her care.
I can tell you from first hand experience that from the examination we gave, Little Girl is a healthy mule for her age. She has a healthy body condition score, good feet (hooves) that receive regular farrier care, healthy skin and hair coat as well as a bright and content disposition. The owner is well educated on mule care and is very conscientious when it comes to the amount of weight she is asked to carry. She gets many breaks throughout a days travel and is cared for quite well.
I see other equids on a regular basis that are not in as good of shape that she is in. I hope that this insight helps those that are concerned understand the reality of the situation a little better and puts their minds at ease.
Kind Regards,
Andrea Shepley RVT

 The Mules also have a rebuttal to the San Diego Union-Tribune opinion piece:
The Mules are not homeless. We’ve been wandering, living on this earth for hundreds of thousands of years. A stick structure is not what we seek. We seek spiritual connection to this earth, while living in balance, respect and reverence for all its inhabitants. Earth is our home. No matter how many editorials that are fired off, the Mules will not let loose of our sacred connection to this sacred place called Earth.
When Little Girl can no longer serve this place of one human being walking with his/her animal companions in one of all four directions, how we choose, when we choose, she will be retired into the nation, 3 Mules Nation, and live out her remaining years in by far better conditions than 90% of people living today.
The Mules

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Request for Motorized Escort by Caltrans or CHP

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Mules emailed California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) requesting motorized escort in the seven mile section where no other public pedestrian route is provided from Oceanside to the Old Pacific Highway Trail. 

The email was sent to
– Laurie Berman, Caltrans Chief Deputy Director
– Cory Binns, Caltrans Director District 11
– Rachel Carpenter, Caltrans Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Branch Chief
– Warren Stanley, CHP Commissioner
– Scott Silsbee, CHP Deputy Commissioner
– Jim Abele, CHP Border Division Chief
– Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California

The email stated the following:

Hello, my name is John Sears. I serve in the capacity of a roving monk living outside with one pack mule named Little Girl, who has been by my side for the past 25 years walking the western United States, exercising our constitutional right to use the federal, state, county, and city public thoroughfare. We also refer to ourselves as “The Mules” and document our journey extensively on our website and our 3 Mules Facebook page.

On February 23, 2018, we went to Camp Pendleton’s Main Gate and requested passage to walk through the base to get to the Las Pulgas gate so that we could continue our journey onto the Old Pacific Highway Trail to San Clemente as we have done as part of our migratory journey three times in the past four years. We were denied access this time because we were not traveling by bicycle.

Upon getting off the base, I phone California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Oceanside and spoke to the CHP watch commander informing him that I would be walking north on I­-5 from Oceanside because I was refused entry into Camp Pendleton. The watch commander told me that I would not be allowed on I­-5. I said that when there is no alternative route, we have the right to use the only one route that is available, and that by default is I­-5. He repeated his statement that we were not allowed on I­-5. I responded that we will be walking on I-5. The watch commander said, “Use your best judgement.”

After walking for about 30 minutes on I­-5, we were stopped by CHP demanding that we turn around and leave I­-5 or face arrest. We refused to leave asserting our right to use the public thoroughfare as this was the only route that will take us to the Old Pacific Highway Trail under seven miles away. The public thoroughfare is not, nor was it ever intended for the exclusive use of high speed automobiles. Bicyclists were riding on this same I­-5 shoulder and were not stopped, detained or arrested. However, the Mules were arrested, charged with Penal Code 148(A) obstruction failing to obey a police officer with the Monk taken to Vista Detention Center, released and given a Notice to Appear in North Division Court in Vista on April 6, 2018. Little Girl was impounded and held at the Humane Society Animal Shelter in Escondido.

The Mules still need to travel north to San Clemente. I­-5 is still the only available route. I am writing you to request a motorized escort to be provided by Caltrans, CHP or both in this seven mile section where no other public route is provided from Oceanside until we can reach the Old Pacific Highway Trail and continue our journey north.

In researching California and other cases, we found the following:

California Law Vehicle Code 21949, effective January 1, 2001, passed by the California Legislature

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state.
(b) In accordance with the policy declared under subdivision (a), it is the intent of the Legislature that all levels of government in the state, particularly the Department of Transportation, work to provide convenient and safe passage for pedestrians on and across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking and pedestrian travel, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

California Department of Transportation Manual Chapter Topic 105 Pedestrian Facilities

The California Vehicle Code Section 21949 has stated a policy for the Department to provide safe and convenient travel for pedestrians. Conventional highways can be used by pedestrians. Although the Department will work to provide safe and convenient pedestrian travel on these highways, not all of these highways will contain sidewalks and walkways. All state highway projects administered by Caltrans….must be designed in accordance with the requirements in Design Information Bulletin 82, “Pedestrian Accessibility Guidelines for Highway Projects.”

  • “The use of the highways for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common and fundamental Right of which the public and the individual cannot be rightfully deprived.” [Ligare vs. Chicago, 28 NE 934; Boon vs. Clark, 214 SSW 607; 25 Am.Jur. (1st) Highways Section. 165]
  • “The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by horse drawn carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city can prohibit or permit at will, but a common Right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” [Supreme Court of Virginia, Thompson V. Smith, 154 SE 579.]

Since I live outside and keep my phone off to preserve battery, I can best be contacted via e­mail, Please provide contact on who I may phone to discuss my request to continue our journey walking north from Oceanside to San Clemente with my pack mule.


John Sears

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Is Anybody Safe?

The Mules are reading a number of comments regarding the issue of safety following our recent truthful account of our arrest on I-5. Nobody or no one exists or operates in total safety mode. Life on earth by its very nature is unsafe. To be completely safe, you need to be dead. Life on earth is rife with risks.

With regards to the Mules walking down the side of the highway, are we perfectly safe? No.

Are motorcyclists darting in and out of traffic at high speeds perfectly safe? No.

Is the high-speed motorists moving at speeds of 65 to 80mph bumper to bumper in heavy traffic distracted by alcohol, drugs, texting, eating, etc. perfectly safe? No.

Is a bicyclist peddling along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway or on I-5 from San Clemente to Oceanside perfectly safe? No.

So it behooves the Mules, to walk over to the safety scanner, walk through and get a reading as to our degree of safety.

The Mules walk at 3mph, weigh about 1000lbs, have never been in a wreck or caused one, as opposed to the high speed motorist who moves at 65 to 80mph, weighs from 1500lb to 40,000lbs and kills and maims itself and others by thousands every year.

The degree of safety at which the Mules operate is by far much higher than the high speed motorists, the gap between the two is huge. For the CHP to stop and order the Mules off I-5 using the pre-text and guise of safety to justify their order is illegal.

To any common sense mind, the Mules by far operate at a much higher degree of safety than the high speed motorist. When non-motorists (pedestrian, bicyclists, equestrians, wheel chairs, etc.) step onto I-5 because there is no other alternative route, that section of I-5 immediately becomes subject to the same rules and regulations that apply to all state, county, city roads.

California vehicle code law 21949 passed by California legislature and made effective January 1, 2001 states that “it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state. It is the intent of the Legislature that all levels of government in the state, particularly the Department of Transportation, work to provide convenient and safe passage for pedestrians on and across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking and pedestrian travel, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.”

California’s Department of Transportation (CalTrans) can easily post a mandatory speed reduction to 50mph on their overhead flashing neon signs bringing this unlawful section of I-5 into compliance so cyclists, pedestrians, equestrians and all other legal users can exercise their constitutional right to move freely on the state public thoroughfare.

A mandatory speed reduction of 50mph in this section of I-5 where no alternative route for non-motorist is present will bring this section under the same rules and regulations as all roads we travel every day.

The Mules

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