San Mateo Police Encounter

On October 6, 2021, the Mules were trailered across the Golden Gate Bridge and dropped off at Ocean Beach. We spent the remainder of the day walking through San Francisco, then into South San Francisco with no police contact.

Little Girl and Little Ethel in South San Francisco with the Cow Palace behind us.

We spent two nights in South San Francisco where we had stopped many times before, got up in the morning, and started walking through Brisbane, San Bruno, then into San Mateo. The Mules’ goal was to stop in San Mateo for the night at a place we had previously stayed many times before, but when getting there found it to be under construction, so we continued on where we found another place to stop for the night.

Where we spent the night on October 8, 2021 and where the San Mateo Police woke us up at 11pm.

The monk put the mules on picket lines, fixed something to eat, then put his sleeping bag to the ground and went to sleep here in San Mateo.

At approximately 11:00 p.m. we were awoken by two police officers shining flashlights in our faces. They wanted to know what we were doing here. We asked them what were they doing here. They informed me they got a call of large animals in this area. They wanted to know who I was, where I was going, where I was coming from, what I was doing, so forth and so on.

I gave them my name, told them I was migrating South, and handed one of the officers my card.

They continued to ask me unnecessary and redundant questions at which time I stated I wasn’t going to answer any more questions. They then told me that I couldn’t be here because there were city codes against large animals in the city.

I told them we have been walking all day long and it was necessary to stop for the night. We could not walk in the dark as it would not be safe for we had no headlight or reflectors for that purpose.

The officer stated he had no previous experience with anybody walking through the city with a horse so he would call his supervisor and get her advice. So we waited for the supervisor to arrive on the scene and sort the whole thing out. She did and decided we could stay for the night. A total of six police vehicles showed up.

In regards to the officers claiming they did not know who we were I find that extremely hard to believe. We had been walking on the El Camino all day long with surveillance cameras on most intersections. At 4:20pm, one officer stopped, got out of his car, approached us, and started asking the usual question. We were certainly being surveilled and recorded. We stick out like a sore thumb needless to say with two mules.

October 8, 2021 4:20pm – officer who stopped, got out of his car, approached the Mules, and started asking the usual questions.

The mules have passed through San Mateo walking down the El Camino many times in previous years. We have our website name in large white block letters 3MULES.COM on the side of both of our pack boxes to be easily seen by any officer observing us walking down the El Camino.

Furthermore, on August 8, 2015, San Mateo Police Department posted on their social media page welcoming the Mules where we spent the night within city limits near where we stayed the other night. For them to say they didn’t know who we were was ridiculous. [Read our 2015 post about this here.]

San Mateo Police post welcoming the mules in 2015
San Mateo Police Department social media post welcoming the Mules to San Mateo in August 2015.

Anyway all the above being said, the Mules packed up in the morning and proceeded to walk through Belmont, San Carlos, in and thru Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, then into Palo Alto, where we spent the night at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto on Middlefield Road. Having no police contact and a quiet peaceful night, we then proceeded in the morning through Mountain View and into Sunnyvale where we are now as a guest of another supportive member of the Three Mules Nation.

The Mules resting at Cubberley Community Center, Palo Alto, CA on October 9, 2021
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8 thoughts on “San Mateo Police Encounter”

  1. I just started following your story and am deeply moved. I admire you so very much. I am from Montana, and have admired animals of all kinds all of my life. I am a city boy so don’t have much experience with large animals, but have always had dogs, whom I love dearly. My father attended the University of Montana back in the 1930s and was on a football scholarship. He worked nights and during the summers worked for the US Forest Service. His first summer before his freshman year he worked at the Forest Services 9 mile remount depot. He learned to be a mule handler so that the next summer he could work in lookout towers in the Selway/Bitterroot wilderness. They had to learn how to handle mules because they trailed to the lookouts with mule teams! The mule teams went to carry spools of telephone cables that they would string along the trail in the spring. The telephone cables (in some cases almost 20 miles long!) were so the lookouts could contact the base fire camps with fire locations. Dad had been born and raised in Chicago and worked in the CCC’s for two years prior to going back to college. So he had experienced the wilds of Idaho and Montana. He got to know mules quite well and he always admired them. He had some favorites at the Remount Depot and was thrilled when he would trail with them. I would listen to his stories of the old days in this part of the country and we would walk some of the trails with him. My Dad passed in 1987, but I miss him dearly, and seeing about your mules brought back a wonderful flood of memories. Please continue to care for your mules, they are amazingly sweet animals (yes they can be stubborn, but I ascribe that to their being intelligent enough to know what they shouldn’t do!). My thoughts go with you on your journeys through California!!!

  2. So sorry you had to experience this, especially after loosing your sweet Little Girl the next day. I felt so lucky to have met up with you last year and hope that this will not cause you to divert and avoid San Mateo on your future treks. May the rest of your travels be met with smiles and welcome arms

  3. So sorry you had this experience. I just came across your page after I saw a post on a neighborhood site saying they’d spotted you near us in Santa Clara.
    I am so moved by you. I wish you peace and safety along your journey. You 3 inspire me.

  4. Horses snd makes were her long before people and ots not as if you are hurting anyone or anything.
    Come to BC Canada 3mules…and go across Canada we definitely on a regular basis have four legged partners traveling through…just yesterday I rode my horse through Tim Hortons cause everyone loves tea or coffee ❤
    You are welcome in Canada!

  5. I find it really odd that people don’t ride horse there. One sees horses everywhere in the uk both for leisure and work.

  6. I think we all need to go back to being selfless . This world has become about me, me, me. We need to be about everyone and how we can help each other!

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