Guest Commentary

This section includes longer letters and editorials that the 3 Mules receive that we find interesting to share with our readers.

January 16, 2016
By Chris Dawson

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the Mules. The Mules made me think of a metaphor with livestock (cows) ruminating. The John and I were sitting there ruminating on life. The word “neon” originally was a Greek word that meant something new. Made me think that the Mules see something new every day. Mule influenced me to write this poem this morning. The story of the brightness inside of him, his journey, like Odysseus heading to Ithaca, his stoney hand, and patina with nomad life. I wrote this poem called Neons. I stole a theme from Shakespeare, thus the first stanza. It’s a theme of what time takes away from us.



On the thieves of words, I borrow such.

That my neons live like rhapsodies of life.

In mind, though I have never seen Ithaca,
I love it’s great lands of creativity.

Greater than anyone can imagine.

The whole importance of being and
being whole.

I could make do with just with my mind,
my stoney hands, my eyes that carry
memories like a patina toolset.

But, I realize there is something more…
The essence of roaming free, that
moment of ruminating with you.

Thoughts, we can not nay, so steering
willfully, an interchange of mine.

That all things change into something
else, such whole breath and melody, that
hungry time’s idle tide will but have to
take away.

All away, except for the love, may she still
shine bright.




September 9, 2015
By Shirley Zindler, Animal Control Officer, Sonoma County Animal Services

Meeting the Mules – Perspective from an Animal Control Officer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs an animal control officer I heard some reports about the mules by people concerned about their welfare but in each case they were gone when we arrived. A friend was following them on Facebook so I read up on them and found their journey fascinating.

On a Saturday afternoon I was working when a call came in of the mules walking alongside a nearby highway. The caller was concerned about it being too warm and the mules carrying packs that looked heavy. I was eager to find out for myself how the mules were. When I pulled up I could see them grazing happily beside the road. They appeared healthy and in good condition with excellent feet and they weren’t even sweating. I quickly introduced myself to their person and told him how glad I was to meet him. He said his name was John and answered my questions politely.

They weren’t far from my home and I asked John where he was staying that night. He said that he didn’t know and I offered my small fenced pasture. I have to admit that later when he had the mules unpacked and grazing in my field I checked them over pretty thoroughly. No sores or wounds from poorly fitting or over crowded packs. No swelling of the legs indicating overwork. The mules were in excellent lean and healthy condition.

I was amazed that the oldest mule, Lady, is 36 years old and that she and John have been traveling together for 31 of those years. I hugged Lady’s big long face and felt her warm breath on my skin and my heart swelled with love. She was in fabulous condition and way past the age that most equines live so John was obviously doing a good job caring for her and the other mules. I heard some criticism that she should have been retired but really the mules were living a more natural life than most. People would have been happy if the mules had been sitting in a small stall or paddock day after day but seemed bothered to see them on the move. The mules had good care, daily mental and physical stimulation, they had each other and they had John looking out for their every need.

That night as I was settling into my comfy bed in the house I thought of John and mules out there under the stars. I could hear the soft calls of an owl through the open window and I almost wished I was out there with them.


August 21, 2015
By Jeanie Greensfelder

I wrote this poem as a tribute to the 3 Mules after I saw them at the corner of Monterrey and California in San Luis Obispo in 2013. Mule and his journey stayed in my mind and the poem arrived.

Don’t Fence Me In

A man leads two mules on the sidewalk
past a café and an art gallery.
Cars stop. People stare.

I learned about Mule Man
when he came through town two years ago.

He moved into my mind, his way of living-
traveling the West twenty miles a day,
eating oats, rice, and canned green beans.

Some yards have invisible fences
and dogs wear collars that shock them
if they cross the property line.
People have fences too. My collar buzzes
when I stray too far. Some of us have
small yards and some have grand estates.
The Mule Man has the whole West.

I’m grateful he moved into my mind,
letting me settle by a creek, tend the mules,
fix a small fire, warm rice and beans,
and hold solitude. When solitude shifts
to loneliness, I talk with my mules,
with the wind that allows trees to speak,
with the sunset, darkness, moonlight,
and with the rock I sit on. And I thank
the mule man who brought me here.

July 10, 2015
By The Dude,

3 Mules in Chico for 4th of July

3Mule_Chico_Style 070415 2I was sitting back having a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale(ChicoStyle), celebrating the 4th. I caught a glimpse out of the window of a man and 3 equines. I immediately knew it was him. I had come across the story of his amazing journey while web surfing a couple years ago. A man and his 3 Mules traveling the State of California. My recollection of why was murky, but that didn’t matter. Like “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, it was more about the adventure than the destination.

3Mule_Chico_Style 070415I yelled out “3 Mules!, 3 Mules!” My wife and guests had no idea what I was talking about. He and the Mules were walking at a very brisk pace, there wasn’t a second to spare. I grabbed my camera and ran out the door. “Hey there, I saw you on the internet a couple years ago”. He was friendly and let me take pictures of the mules and him. With the temperature near 100 degrees I offered him some cold water, but he declined.

“What’s Your Message?”, I asked. “Freedom”, he said. This 4th of July just got real. “To travel freely” he says, as a police car drives by slowly for the third time in two minutes. Turns out, not everyone thinks his journey is so amazing. He has received citations and even been arrested for traveling the state with his Mules. To the credit of Chico Police, I believe he made it out of the city without any citations.

He likes to be called Mule. The 3 Mules names are Who-Dee-Doo (the newest member of the group), Lady (the oldest), and Little Girl (the lead mule). Like Kwai Chang Caine from the classic TV show Kung Fu. A man with a simple appearance, walking the land on a seemingly endless journey, but extraordinarily in tune with the “Natural World” and mystical forces.

His quest is to bring awareness to the ever shrinking free space by the”Mega- tropolis” and to establish a statewide network of paths and trails for Hikers, Cyclists, and Mules. It was getting late in the evening and I told him “I better let you get on your way” and with a nod, off he went.

Chico 070515He was gone as quick as he appeared. Reflecting on the encounter, I regretted not convincing him to have some cold water. I had carrots in the fridge, I had oats. If only I’d given him advice on where to get the Mules a drink, and where to spend the night.

Checking on him the next day on Facebook, he had posted this photo and message.

“Where we slept last night. Where we going now? Who knows? Great way to be.” – in Chico, CA

I realized that he had left the comfort of the world I live in (the “Man-Made” world) far behind, and that he was on another level altogether. A Master of the “Natural World”. One with it, protected by it.


May 5, 2015
By Samm Bennett

Man with Three Mules

I saw an article this morning (September 12 at 10am, Tokyo time) on the net, at The Atlantic magazine, that read: “There is a man wandering around California with three mules”. At that moment I knew I’d have to write a song. Fortunately, today I had the morning completely free. So I wrote the song, and recorded it, and now, here it is, four and a half hours from the original inspiration. I should note that I haven’t read the article yet, so my song shouldn’t be expected to have any of the actual details right. But the image I’m uploading for this song is a photo of the man himself.  Click on the play arrow below to listen. Hope you enjoy the song.



March 23, 2015

3 Mules, a Monk, on a Mission

By Sean, The Outside Way


Photo by Sean / The Outside Way

Photo by Sean / The Outside Way

Holly molly!!, where is my camera? Was all I could think of when I stepped out of the trailer this morning and saw moving in almost slow motion, a sturdy weathered man, and his 3 mules meandering past our steps. Being a camp host, we see all sorts of different people pass through, mostly on foot or bicycle, but never fully loaded pack mules. By the time I was able to grab my camera he was no where to be seen. OMG! He must be some sort of magician I thought, then upon closer inspection I realized he was just hanging out by a tree about 50 yards out. I still can’t get over how a guy with 3 fully packed mules manages to move around so stealthy, it was quite incredible to watch him and his animals move from tree to tree so leisurely that you could barley notice their presence. They hung out just long enough for his mules to munch down some grass and drink some water, then they were gone as mysteriously as they had appeared. Read more…

March 14, 2015

Different Level of Nomad

By Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets

For those that have followed our blog, we are a married couple making plans for the full-time RV “nomadic” lifestyle. Although we been busy working the plan for our Great Escape in 2016, we are still living in a home that we rent, and we still have our small retail business.

As we have started blogging, we follow other blogs and simply read even more blogs, all with the common thread of people who have chosen to be “nomads”. Of course, in our online “travels”, it has become obvious that there are differing levels of the nomadic lifestyle based on individual resources. Some are traveling full-time in a van or pick-up truck with camper or a tent trailer or even just a tent, while others are doing the same thing in a high dollar rig like a Prevost. And then there is the bulk of the rest of us in 5th wheels and motorhomes, all of us nomads or nomad wanabees.

If you look up the definition of “nomad”, one definition is… “a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place…” Some synonyms for the word “nomad” include “travel”, wanderer” and “rover”.

So today, on my way to the office, driving down a country road, I come across this guy…
Mule_II by Ed at ChasingSunrisesAndSunsets
He was just walking along the edge of the road, leading his Mule Team. As I drove by, I commented to my wife that “I’ll bet THAT guy has a story to tell”. She said, “why don’t you drop me off at the shop and go back and find out?” So, I did.

In the 10-15 minutes that it took me to return, he had not gotten too far. So I pulled into an empty lot up ahead of him aways, and waited for him to approach. I asked if he had a few minutes to stop and talk with me. He said “Sure!”

His name is “Mule”. And he’s been on the road and living outdoors for decades. The other “mules” are “Lady” and “Little Girl”. Apparently, they have become fairly famous in the West, although I did not know that when we met.

We talked for most of an hour, just me and the three mules. After just a few moments, read more
March 6, 2015

Why I Am Helping John Sears Appeal His National Park Case Pro Bono

By Dan Kapelovitz (e-mail:

Mules in front of U.S. District Courthouse. Photo from Danny Roth

Mules in front of U.S. District Courthouse (Photo from Danny Roth)

I was walking by the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles, when I saw two mules standing on the courthouse steps.

I had to investigate what this was all about.

It turned out that the federal government was prosecuting a man for disobeying a “lawful order of a government employee” and for “camping outside designated areas” of a National Park. [Note: Details of this case posted here.]  In other words, John Sears and these two mules had been walking all day and needed rest.  Mr. Sears found a resting place with no one else around and fell asleep.  He had no notice that doing so was against the law, or that he was even in a federal park.  When the park rangers woke him and ordered him to leave, he refused because traveling through the darkness would have been unsafe.

I further learned that, at that very moment, this man was defending himself at trial against these federal charges. Read more…
December 20, 2014

What the 3 Mules have taught me

By Carol Lingham

John Sears, Lady, Little Girl, and Pepper, also known as the 3 Mules, have touched the hearts of many people during their 31 years living outdoors and traveling together throughout the western United States. We don’t see too many mules on the roads these days, which has led me to wonder, why not? And why are the 3 Mules, so loved by some and so discriminated against by others? I felt drawn to learn more about mules in general and found great information on 

History of Mules in the United States

The first mule breeder in the United States was George Washington, who aside from being one of our most important founding fathers and first president of the United States of America, George was also an enlightened agriculturalist and visionary who from early on saw the true value of the mule and wanted one. The major obstacle George faced in obtaining a mule at the time was read more…