The Mules respond to Caltrans District Director Letter

On February 23, 2018, the Mules left Oceanside to go north to San Clemente taking I-5. Unlike cyclists and pedestrians, equestrians have no alternative route, no trails, no frontage road, for this nine-mile stretch from Oceanside to Las Pulgas Road trailhead. Since Camp Pendleton denied bike route access to the Mules which they’ve granted the Mules three times previously, the Mules used the wide shoulder of Interstate 5 (I-5) to walk north. We were stopped by California Highway Patrol (CHP) and told to go back to Oceanside. We refused on the grounds that since no alternative route existed we had every right to use the freeway. Since we refused, we were arrested and taken to jail (Mule’s Account of Arrest on I-5). The San Diego District Attorney dropped the charges as they felt their case was not winnable with a jury.
 
Between March 5 through April 9th, the Mules had numerous back and forth emails and phone conversations with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and CHP requesting an alternative route that the Mules and equestrians can take or provide a motorized escort to get from Oceanside to Las Pulgas Road trailhead. Caltrans and CHP repeatedly said no to our request.
 
On April 23, the Mules received the following letter from Caltrans Interim District Director Timothy M. Gubbins:
 

 
The Mules believe that California Vehicle Code 21960 is unconstitutional. When there is no alternative route for a nine-mile stretch without walking excessive out-of-the-way-to-the-moon-and-back miles, the Mules and all other equestrians cannot be refused access to the public thoroughfare on the grounds of safety when the Mules offered a scheme by which a motorized escort could be provided by CHP and/or Caltrans. They do it all the time for assorted circumstances and ours would certainly be one of those. There is no reason why it couldn’t be done for the Mules and all other equestrians to go nine miles from Oceanside to Las Pulgas Road exit.
 
All laws are based on common sense. They start from that category and that’s what gives them a foundation for legitimacy, a common sense start. So we claim that to any common sense mind, equestrians have the same right to the public thoroughfare as any motorist, cyclist and pedestrian. We are legal citizens of the United States, we pay our taxes, and we have equal access to the public thoroughfare. And when our right to use the public thoroughfare is denied arbitrarily by the legislature picking winners and losers not on the bases of good common sense but on the bases of self interests, that is illegal. CVC Section 21960 was passed illegally and stands in an illegal condition.
 

Click to enlarge Pacific Crest Trail map

Caltrans Interim District Director Gubbins stated “an alternative north-south equestrian route is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).” The alternative route suggested by Caltrans makes no sense and does not get the Mules anywhere near San Clemente, where the Mules wanted to go.
 
On the 3 Mules Facebook page, we requested route recommendation from the local people that follow our page. A gentleman by the name of Thomas Firth who knows the area and the roads very well and is also an experienced horse person pleaded with us to not use the roads that would get us to the Pacific Crest Trail. He said that they were very dangerous and it was suicidal. As well, the Pacific Crest Trail is seasonal. It can only be traveled when the snow is not there. Firth wrote to us, “If your plan is to get to the PCT, you are not equipped for that trail at this time of year with your animal, as much of it isn’t navigable with stock yet, due to snow and downed trees over Mt. San Jacinto. If you plan on doing the PCT south, it is still closed, and doesn’t get you where you wish to go anyway, without dropping back onto 74. That stretch is suicide at best.” The PCT alternative route proposed by Director Gubbins was not a viable alternative route to get to San Clemente.
 

Click to enlarge California Trail map

Gubbins further stated, “There are also several resources available online to locate equestrian trails, including National Park Service, California Trail Map, and Trail Link.” These suggested trails by Caltrans are recreational trails not anywhere near Oceanside and are not useful for equestrian travelers trying to get from Oceanside to San Clemente.
 
No National Parks exist between Oceanside and San Clemente. The California Trail Map shows that there are no existing trails to get from Oceanside to San Clemente for pedestrians or equestrians. The route that the Mules have walked through three times in the last five years was through Camp Pendleton from Las Pulgas gate to Oceanside gate on the Camp Pendleton bike route. This is the only route to get from Oceanside to the Las Pulgas Road/Old Pacific Highway Trailhead avoiding I-5.
 
On August 25, 2015, the Mules were going from Sausalito to San Francisco and had to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, which allow pedestrian access. However, we were stopped as equestrians were not allowed on the premise of safety. The Mules asked the Golden Gate Bridge District for an exception based on our experience but our request was denied. As an alternative, the Golden Gate Bridge District agreed to provide the Mules a motorized escort across the Golden Gate Bridge at their expense. Marin Humane Society, who contracts with the Bridge District to handle all animal issues, picked us up on the north end of the bridge in a trailer and dropped us off in San Francisco.
 

 

San Diego Humane Society

We repeatedly contacted Caltrans and CHP requesting motorized escort to resolve the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM and was repeatedly denied. In the Oceanside area, CHP and Caltrans contracts with the San Diego Humane Society, as that is who picked up Little Girl when we were arrested.
 
Instead of transporting the Mules nine miles to the nearby Old Pacific Highway trailhead where we were trying to get to, the State of California solution was to transport Little Girl 30 miles to Escondido and the Monk 15 miles to Vista and use up San Diego County time and resources processing the Mules.
 
A bus is provided for pedestrians to go from Oceanside Transit Center thru Camp Pendleton to San Onefre. Cyclists are permitted to ride thru Camp Pendleton and are also cycling on the shoulder of I-5. Similar to the Golden Gate Bridge solution in place for equestrians, a motorized escort for equestrians provided by CHP/Caltrans contracting with the Human Society of San Diego would be a temporary solution until the common sense solution of building a path, paralleling I-5 connecting Oceanside to Las Pulgas Road/Old Pacific Highway trail head, is constructed.
 
California Vehicle Code 21949 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…”
 
The State of California failed to follow their policy. The Mules travel by foot. The Mules have four legs and they walk, and the Monk has two legs. We have the same rights to access the public thoroughfare to get from Point A to Point B as any pedestrian, cyclist, or person traveling by wheelchair, walker or stroller. By excluding equestrians on the public thoroughfare, the Legislature/Caltrans is picking winners and losers and deciding that the Mules and all equestrians are losers and they have no rights to the public thoroughfare. This is unconstitutional and illegal. The United States Constitution, the supreme law of the land, grants equal access to free movement in this country to all its citizens for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 
Why do the Mules take the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM so seriously? The answer to us is obvious. The public thoroughfare must remain public. Any restriction of its use to its citizens is dangerous. The Mules have their feet on the ground all day every day. While most people are moving around sealed up inside their automobile with air conditioning moving from one building to the next, the Mules are out here on the road on the earth all day every day. We see what is happening. We know what is taking place. It won’t be long before equestrians will be relegated to moving around in a horse trailer going from one sawdust ring to the next. If you don’t like that scheme and continue to ignore what is currently happening and take no action by contacting your local, county and state policy makers, you will find that in the future your freedom to travel in the United States of America has disappeared. Good luck in getting it back.
 
The Mules

Mayfield Farrier Service

Thank you Jerrod Mayfield for shoeing Little Girl once again. Jerrod shoed Little Girl the last time we were in Bakersfield. He did a nice job then. He did a nice job now. The Mules will continue their job to walk freely in one of all four directions all day every day, one step at a time, to shine the light on those who try to stop the Mules from practicing true human freedom on Earth, which brings true human happiness on this Earth.

Palm Springs, California – Part II

On April 29, we wrote a blog post of what happened when we arrived at Palm Springs on our way to Indio. When we got to Indio, we decided that it was not feasible to walk to Arizona, so we turned around to start heading back northwest to Bakersfield. The only route is to back track and walk thru Palm Springs.

We arose this morning (May 1) spending the night in an open field adjacent to the railroad tracks, couple hundred yards away from a resort. I ate some oats for breakfast, watered Little Girl, and proceeded to pack up with a challenge of a strong wind.
 
Upon completing the job, we headed west leaving Rancho Mirage headed for Beaumont. I left the tracks, got on Vista Chino Road, walked about a mile and stopped at a Starbucks. I tied Little Girl to a tree in an out of the way spot, went into Starbucks to charge my phone. I was there for less than an hour when a young lady entered Starbucks, asked me if that was my mule outside. I said yes.
 
She said she is in distress and her back leg is injured. I knew that was nonsense because I tied her in a way and such a place where where there was nothing that could injure her back leg. She told me if I didn’t go out immediately and attend to my injured mule she would call animal control and the police.
 
I told her to go ahead but make sure she is there when they arrive to take responsibility for her actions. I stayed about 10 minutes longer, completed charging my phone, left Starbucks, went back to where Little Girl was tied. Of course, there was no injury to her leg, and there was no young lady standing there to take responsibility for her actions.
 
When equines stand for periods of time, they will bend their ankle/leg and hold their hoof at an angle. This relieves pressure, much like a human will shift their weight when standing for periods of time. Someone not familiar with that may think they see a lame animal, although that is NOT the case!
 
I put my phone away, untied Little Girl and proceeded west down the street. We had walked about 45 minutes and animal control officer came up behind us in his truck. He parked in front of us, got out of his truck and demanded we speak to him. We said what for? He said is that mule injured, we got a call that there is an injured mule. I said, you were behind us for quite a time, did you see any indication that the mule was injured? He didn’t say. I demanded an answer. And got a weak acknowledgement that he could see no injury. I said then why did you stop us? And who called you? What is their name and what exactly is their complaint? He would not answer my questions. I told him to get away and leave us alone. He said he would not. He would follow us. And so he did for over an hour.
 
The Mules have been harassed by trolls ever since we arrived in Palm Springs. Every time I stop to do necessary things such as charge my phone, water my mule, stop for groceries, or take a brief time to rest from walking.
 
When we were walking thru the downtown, a police officer stopped and wanted to talk to us. We were not interested and told him so. Shortly after that, Riverside Animal Control showed up and wanted to talk to us. He said don’t worry I read your website, I understand what you are doing and we have no issues with you.
 
The next day I went to WinCo to buy groceries. I tied Little Girl up in a secure place where she would not be in anyone’s way. Upon completing my shopping, leaving the store, a police officer was waiting for me. When I got to Little Girl with my cart of groceries, he wanted to know what I was all about and what I was doing. He said they got a call about a horse in the parking lot. I said I have been walking all day, the wind was blowing hard and I had to pack up my groceries and was not interested in a conversation. Another police officer arrived and had the two officer talked awhile. The first police officer left and the second police officer stayed not more than 15 feet away in his cruiser the whole time I was there approximately 20 minutes.
 
This afternoon as I was taking a walk break for Little Girl and dictating the events of above for this blog, the following occurred:
 

We were outside the fenced perimeter of the airport in the large field

While walking down East Vista Chino Avenue, I entered an open area full of creosote bushes and grass, no fence, no signs, to prevent me from entering. I tied Little Girl to the fence, removed her belongings so she could get a rest, retrieved some oatmeal out of my packbox and served myself lunch. It wasn’t long that a security guard drove up and stopped on the other side of the fence and informed me to untie Little Girl from the fence and said that Little Girl being tied to the fence was a security issue as it was airport property. I said no because there was no place else to tie her and I was not on the side of the airport. I had removed all my belongings and I planned to rest Little Girl and there was no good reason to be disturbed.
 
Shortly thereafter Palm Springs Police Dept and Animal Control showed up and informed me that I could not be there. They also informed me that if I were to tie Little anywhere in Palm Springs to a tree, fence, post, etc., I would be in violation of the No Tethering Law, arrested and taken to jail. They also informed me if I were to stopped anywhere to take the gear off of Little Girl to give her a break, it wold be considered camping and I would be arrested.
 
In looking up Palm Springs Municipal Code 10.12.040, we found:

10.12.040 Animals at large in aircraft operations areas.
The animal control officer, his deputies and assistants, all peace officers, and all city employees subject to direction of the airport manager, shall have authority, subject to federal or any other applicable regulations, to apprehend and remove any dog or other animal found running at large in any landing area or aircraft movement area at the municipal airport. When such dog or animal poses an immediate threat to persons or property and the prompt removal of such dog or animal from said areas is very difficult or hazardous, such dog or animal may be summarily destroyed. (Ord. 12914, 1987: Ord. 910 § 2, 1971: prior code § 5523)

 
Little Girl was under restraint and secure as shown in the photo. She was not running loose and “at large” in any landing area or aircraft movement area. We were outside the airport fenced perimeter. We had stopped to take a break after walking approximately 9 miles since morning and to eat some oats.
 
The Mules are now faced with the situation where it is impossible to stop anywhere, go get groceries, get phone charge, care for Little Girl, walk thru town to go north. This is not allowable for us. Anyone driving a car and living behind four walls is perfectly fine. But for us, walking peacefully walking on the public thoroughfare to get from Point A to Point B, a constitutional right, guaranteed in this country, the law of the land to do things necessary to stay alive, is illegal.
 
We cannot walk 24/7 and must stop to eat, hydrate, rest and catch our breath. The four essential necessities for ALL LIVING BEINGS.
 
The Mules are peaceful travelers and not a blight. We do not litter. We pick up after ourselves. We do not do drugs. We are not alcoholics. We are not panhandling for money. We have our own financial resources. We have supported commerce in the area by shopping. Unlike visitors who arrive in Palm Springs by automobile, we arrived by walking hundreds of miles to get here.
 
The outside is our home where we have lived for most of our lives connecting with Nature. It is the only thing we know and enjoy. To deny the Mules this freedom is the death of us. This Earth is our home. We wander and roam this beautiful place we all call Earth with reverence, love and respect until we die from accident, stealth or natural causes.
 
Needless to say, we cannot obey this insanity. If we do, it is suicide. These laws are in human and inhumane. Little Girl and myself will do a walkabout in the town of Palm Springs and shine the light on this disgusting situation. We will exercise our constitutional rights, the supreme law of the land and we will do it everywhere else we go.
 
The Mules
 

Indian Wells, California


On Saturday, April 28 as we were traveling thru Palm Springs, it had become time to look for a place to stop for the night. We were looking for a park but found none. However, we found this open field in Indian Wells that was a staging area for tourist buses. We asked the maintenance man if it would be alright to stay here for the night. He said he didn’t know. We said we’ll go back over there and fix our dinner, so we did.
 
After awhile, a security guard approached us and inquired what we were all about. We said we had stopped here to fix some dinner, but it would be nice if we could stay here for the night. They said go ahead and enjoy your dinner, we’ll check with management. Security guard came back and said yes, it will be fine.
 
Later, a gentleman came over with some friends. They were interested in our journey. We had a nice conversation and received a souvenir La Quinta Resort & Club hat and water for Little Girl.
 
The Mules want to thank the people that we met for their hospitality and kindness.
 

Palm Springs, California

This is where we slept yesterday night outside of Palm Springs. I packed up Little Girl and we left our camp about 8 making our way to Highway 111 heading for Indio. After walking for a couple of hours, we came upon a Starbucks. I decided to stop there and charge my phone.
 
I tied Little Girl to a tree in the parking lot about hundred and fifty feet away from the entrance to Starbucks. I went into Starbucks, sat down, plugged in my phone and waited for phone to charge. I was able to look through the front door of Starbucks and see Little Girl.
 
After about half an hour of sitting in Starbucks, two police officers entered through the door approached me and said they wanted me to go outside and talk to them. I said I’m not going anywhere to talk to anybody. I’m busy. They turned and went back outside. I could see there were people gathering around Little Girl. It’s a common occurrence. She attracts attention.
 
Apparently one of those people or all of those people called the police claiming Little Girl was tied for over 2 hours in the hot sun without water. She was not tied in the direct sun. She was tied under a tree. She was without water because she didn’t need any. I had watered her in the morning before we started walking. I was in Starbucks for no more than 1 hour. It takes about an hour to charge my phone and that is the maximum time I spend away from Little Girl.
 
I have been walking the state of California for over 5 years with Little Girl. Animal control and the police are called. It’s a common occurrence whenever I tie Little Girl to a tree, lamppost, or fence, go into a grocery store, hardware store, a library, or a Starbucks. I’ve never been charged or arrested for animal abuse, neglect of Little Girl or any such thing. Little Girl has never suffered from lack of water or lack of food or lack of care. Calling the police or animal control or both will not result in my arrest it will only be a misuse of police resources and time.
 
I am 70 years old. Little Girl is 28 years old. We can easily travel 15 miles a day in hundred plus degree heat and love every minute of it.
 
People who live inside air conditioned vehicles, going from one air-conditioned building to the next are in no way capable of placing any judgment on us and the way we live. Our ages-old nomadic way of life is tried-and-true. It’s stellar. Calling police, animal control or both will never stop the Mules or their nomadic way of life. It’s our constitutional right the Supreme law of the land to be who we are and what we are, and we will exercise that right relentlessly.
 
The gentlemen in the photo below use their courage and weapons to fight for the freedom, which we the Mules enjoy. The Mules have a different scheme. We don’t use weapons. We use our energy to live free and be free one step at a time all day everyday until we die by accident, stealth or natural causes. Its a scheme that has served us well throughout the ages.
 
The Mules