UPDATE 9/19/2020: In 2015 the Mules were traveling through Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County where we had the pleasure of staying at Rancho Salsipuedes owned by Timothy Bottoms. We enjoyed our stay at the Rancho and learning of its unique history, which is documented in our original blog post below.
Rancho Salsipuedes is a rare place. About 12 miles inland in Big Sur, it is one of the LAST standing California Homesteads that is not owned by the government or by a corporation. It has been in the hands of The Bottoms family since 1975. It has been untouched by overdevelopment, remaining in all of its glory. It has been looked after with true, pure, authentic love for the natural world.
We have come to find out about the Dolan wildfire that started August 18, 2020 and one month later continues to burn with only 46% perimeter containment. This wildfire ravaged thru and over the Rancho Salsipuedes, which we are very sorry to hear about.
In 2015, We left our palomino mule, Who Dee Doo, at Rancho Salsipuedes and glad to see in the photo below that he made it through the fire okay.
The Bottom’s family friend, Caitlin Ackerman, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the remaining horses and rebuild Rancho Salsipuedes. Please click on this linkto read more about this special place and donate if you can. Warning, there are graphic images of the animals domestic and wildlife that didn’t survive.
Here is our original blog post that we wrote October 20, 2015:
October 20, 2015 – Rancho Salsipuedes:
Three Mules and one monk were walking south through Fort Hunter Liggett on a road bordering the Los Padres National Forest when a gentleman by the name of Timothy Bottoms stopped his Jeep, got out, introduced himself and asked if the kids needed water or hay for he had brought some. The monk responded, “No. We are okay. Thank you.”
He then invited us to his ranch to take a break. We said yes that would be nice. So we walked to his ranch, which is surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness, and took a break.
Tim asked if we needed anything in the way of supplies, gear, etc. The monk responded with a yes. Our pack boxes were over 25 years old and worn to the bone. Tim said he would be glad to help so he did by supplying us with four new pack boxes.
Who Dee Do, our third mule will be staying at Tim’s ranch. He never became easy for me to shoe. He had to be sedated and that was not a practical scheme for us walking through the Megatropolis.
Who Dee Do will be living with Tim’s horses and mules, a great place for Who Dee Do to live.
The Mules say thank you to Timothy Bottoms for his kindness and support he has shown the mules, the identifiers of this ages old nomadic way of life living with respect and reverence for this beautiful place called Earth, the home of human beings. ~The Mules
About Rancho Salsipuedes: “Nestled in the verdant, peaceful valley, stands the thick adobe walls of the Mission San Antonio de Padua’s Portreros Mulos built by the caretaker friar and several neophytes…it established ranch support for the mission mules.
After secularization in 1834, the property came under the private ownership of Vicente Avile, who purchased the drought stricken Rancho for the stately sum of $13, all he had in his pocket. The Rancho remained in the family estate for over one hundred years.
The Avila Ranch, a 160-acre homestead, became known as Salsipuedes (“get out if you can”), which was later sold to Timothy Bottoms in 1975 as a family refuge.”
On the ranch is an old stone cabin and oven built sometime in late 1800s/early 1900s.
The trails surrounding the property are very difficult to travel and impassable with overgrown brush and fallen trees. During the time we were waiting for our pack boxes to arrive, we spent our time clearing these trails.
The Mules won’t and don’t war. Why? There is no good reason to do so. The act of war produces nothing we need or want to associate with. It will not better our lives. War worsens our lives. War, an endless cycle of death, destruction and human misery. First, a victor, then a loser, around and around you go, learning nothing, accomplishing nothing for yourself or the generations to come. A life of service to the Megatropolis providing it with the highest possible degree of human suffering and misery so it can satisfy its never ending insatiable appetite for that misery.
One bright beautiful sunny morning, as can only exist on earth, the Mules many thousands of years ago, were moving into a large canyon as a tribal group known by all who knew us as The Mules. Suddenly, we heard the sharp clinking of metal and the sound of horses coming from behind. The horses of war were in pursuit. We started to run fast and hard with our mules to the end of the canyon up and out onto the ridge. We looked back. They weren’t coming for their horses could not commandeer the rugged climb. We chose for our escape a well known canyon for its difficult ascent. Once down, we would be safe from the pursuing force of war. Almost down, we could see a large cloud of dust at the mouth of the canyon. We turned and looked to the ridge which we had left. The forces of war had come up from another canyon.
We were trapped for the first and last time. The Megatropolis had grown too large now. Its organization and control of humanity was well on its way. We got off our mules, placed our hands on their necks and stood and quietly waited for what was surely to come.
First we watched our children slain one at a time before our eyes. Then we watched our wives, companions meet the same fate. And then we who remained were mocked and insulted as cowards for allowing them to do what they had just done. Then my tribal members were also slain one at a time until only I was left standing quietly waiting for my sure demise, I saw this soul captured by war and destruction start to weep about 100 feet of where I stood.
Suddenly a stillness with the strength of a storm encompassed all that could be seen and experienced. Then another captured soul began to weep. Now all these men of war were on their knees weeping and shaking with fear and regret for what they have done to the Mules and of course to themselves. We stood in silence until we understood it was time for us to leave for the suffering was not ours to bare. The burden was to be bared by the men of war. I got on my mule, turned to the north and once again continued this endless journey alone but never alone of one human being sacredly walking on earth through the web of life in one of any of all four directions with his or her animal companions one step of a time all day every day.
The story of the Mules’ past and their ancestors explains very well why the Mules will never war again. The ancestors learned the consequences of war and pass this story on through the use of thousands of years of harbored energy. Each lifetime we live here on earth, our chosen place of eternal residence, we end that life by dying either from accident, stealth or natural causes, only to re-materialize, live again, wander and roam over this beautiful creation known as earth. The Megatroplis seeking to control all energy on earth has never controlled the Mules and never will. We the Mules give our energy to this place in which we reside and this place protects us as we walk on our endless journey through time and space. The Mules
This afternoon March 16, I have been stopped by seven or eight City of El Cajon Police on El Cajon Boulevard. Right now as I speak for no reason other than walking down the sidewalk they forcibly stop me and detain me. It’s totally illegal other asking me all kinds of questions and threatening psychological evaluation. It is none of their business. I’m legally walking down the street and I won’t answer the question. We’ve been stopped twice already by La Mesa Police Department. We’re not going to answer questions continually all day long from every police department in this county or in the state.
After an hour, the Mules were released from police detainment which was illegal to start with. We were told that we could go thru town but not to stop anywhere. If we did, I would be arrested and Little Girl and my belongings would be impounded. And of course, due to the lateness of the day and them detaining us for an hour, that probably will not happen. We will stop and find a place to rest wherever that may be.
San Marcos, CA 2/28/2019 – Where we slept last night, we were packing up and getting ready to leave when two San Diego County sheriffs appeared, questioned us as why we were here and what we were doing for they had got a call that somebody was in the area with a horse. I told them we spent the night there and we were on our way south. They said fine and that was the concluded the conversation.
La Costa Town Center, Carlsbad, CA 2/28/2019. From San Marcos, Little Girl and I walked 3.3 miles on the trails heading southwest to La Costa Town Square in Carlsbad so that we could stop at Starbucks to have a small cup of coffee leaving a little room for cream, while charging our phone and working on our blog. We had other errands to take care of in the shopping center as well. I secured Little Girl to an unmanicured area that was away from traffic and that was within my view from within Starbucks.
While we were at Starbucks, the property manager sent me the following email:
Shortly after, she came into Starbucks and said that my mule and I had to leave, otherwise she was calling the police and animal control. I replied that I wasn’t going to leave until I finished charging my phone and drinking my coffee. Upon leaving Starbucks, I untied Little Girl and moved to another area of the shopping center parking lot to complete my other errands. After doing that we left. We did not make any contact with police or animal control.
Ms. McEntee’s demand conflicts with state and federal law for equestrians’ right to travel on the public thoroughfare. These shopping centers are connected to the public thoroughfare.
When somebody leaves their house, gets in their car, gets on the public thoroughfare with the intent of going to a store to buy food or supplies for themselves and their family, they fully expect that when they leave the public thoroughfare to enter the parking lot, they will be able to park their car, walk into the store, buy their groceries and supplies, return to their car, put their groceries and supplies in their car, and leave to go home.
To have that denied simply because a person arrives by horse or mule and not in an automobile is illegal. To call police and animal control simply because a customer arrived by mule and not allow them to park because the person didn’t arrive in a high speed automobile is ridiculous.
This is not 1817 where you load up your six-shooter and go out to shoot some deer for dinner. This is 2019. You start up your car, proceed on the public thoroughfare, enter a parking lot and go into a grocery store or a big box store, which controls the food and supplies. That’s where you get it. If you don’t get it there, you’re not going to get it anywhere.
For a shopping center manager to arbitrarily decide who gets to eat or get supplies and who doesn’t is an outrageous situation. The Mules on that particular day were a perfect example about how outrageous things have gotten It certainly showed that those limits must be thoroughly watched and constrained.
Big box shopping centers and grocery stores should have a small unmanicured area that can be utilized for equestrians to tie their horse or mule as they have parking spaces for motorists and bike racks for cyclists.
Diane Village Shopping Center, San Diego, CA 3/3/2019. We went to the Dollar Store in Diane Village Shopping Center to get groceries. Somebody posted the following comment on our website: “I think it is great what you are doing. I saw a post that you were at the Dollar Store in the Diane Shopping Center today and read a few posts that I didn’t like, like ‘call the Humane Society’ for a man and his mule? Keep on walking trouble free. You have every right to!”
Where we stopped for the night, San Diego, CA 3/4/2019. On Monday morning as we were packing up where we stopped for the night, San Diego Police stopped to talk to us curious as to who we were and what we were doing. The conversation was cordial and friendly. The officers took some photos, which they sent to us.
City of San Diego Serra Mesa Library, San Diego, CA 3/4/2019. Afterwards, we went to the City of San Diego Serra Mesa Kearny Mesa Library to charge our phone. Little Girl was secured and well out of the path of the library entrance. The librarian approached me and said that I had to remove my mule from library property for Little Girl was a danger to children going to and leaving the library. I secured Little Girl way out of the way from people coming and going to the library and she was not a danger. I told the librarian that I was not going to leave until I was finished charging my phone. She said if I didn’t remove Little Girl from library property she would call the police. I said fine.
The police arrived and spoke to the librarian. Then the police came to me and said that I had the right to be there because it is a public library.
Chula Vista, CA 3/8/2019. Last night in Chula Vista, we stopped for the night in an open area. In the morning, I grazed Little Girl on the abundant grass then fixed breakfast, then proceeded to pack up. While packing up, Chula Vista Police showed up and informed us that we were trespassing, while people were walking and running their dogs not more than 200 feet away. They also informed us that people were complaining that we were causing a disturbance.
If we were causing a disturbance in the process of grazing and packing our belongings, then the people walking their dogs were certainly doing the same. The officers decided to write a citation for having a tent set up within the city limits of Chula Vista, which is an infraction. They then asked me to sign my name on the citation. I refused to do so because we were not causing any disturbance or bothering anybody. The police officers informed me that if I didn’t sign the citation, Little Girl would be impounded and I would be taken to jail. I still refused to sign the citation.
The officers called their supervisor who came out and had a conversation with myself. He said he had met me a couple of years ago and it was good to see that I was still on my feet. He released me from detainment and told me to have a safe trip.
Afterwards, we went to Starbucks for a small cup of coffee leaving room for cream and to charge our phone. I parked Little Girl in an out of the way location. While in Starbucks, I received a Facebook message from a woman that stated: “Hi, is there a specific handler for the mules?”
We responded yes.
She replied, “I’m in Chula Vista and one of your mules is outside Starbucks without a handler. I waited, hoping maybe someone was inside getting a drink.” I replied back that I was inside Starbucks.
Little Girl’s relationship with me is not the same as a person’s relationship with their pet dog. My relationship with Little Girl is a working relationship. She serves me in the capacity of a pack mule, carrier of all my worldly goods which I use to live from day to day. It’s been the way of life for our ancestors for thousands of years and our way of life for the past 35 years. She has to be left unattended for short periods of time. It is not possible or practical to flag a stranger down and expect them to watch Little Girl while I take care of necessary errands.
When that mule is secure to a light post or tree, etc. she is parked. The public has no more of a right to approach her or touch her, than I have to pop the hood on somebody’s automobile and adjust the carburetor. Little Girl is private property. That’s the law and must be respected.
Summary. Any law that allows an owner of a parking lot (privateer) to deny a citizen access to a store that provides the necessities of life, such as food, clothes, etc., must be changed, abolished. The United States is a free country with a constitution guaranteeing all its citizens the right of free movement and equal treatment and protection under the law. To allow a privateer to deny a citizen of a free country access to the necessities of life is Totalitarianism of the worst kind.
The Mules are now faced with the situation where it is impossible to stop anywhere, go get groceries, get phone charged, care for Little Girl, walk thru town. 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, has been made illegal by these unconstitutional laws.
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 a public nuisance. 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 San Diego 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 our preferred way of life. 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. We will exercise our constitutional rights, the supreme law of the land and we will do it everywhere else we go.
The number of negative people we encounter is relatively small in comparison to the trouble they can cause by calling and complaining to the enforcement agencies of our presence. The Mules interaction with the public by far is positive.
On Saturday, February 9, 2019, the Mules were escorted thru Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton by Paul, who is a fireman on the base.
We spent the night in Agra, CA, which is where the north gate of the CALL DUN DRUM is located, leaving a huge amount of energy to connect to the south end of the CALL DUN DRUM and restore its free-flowing natural state. Energy that is contained or forcibly stopped will always seek to return to its natural state of free-flowing.
The Mules and the Nation, the 3 Mules Nation, want to thank Paul for giving his energy to escort the Mules, so that they could continue this sacred journey walking south to Oceanside and points beyond rather than the use of automobile and trailer.
We did receive a belated response from the mother agency Caltrans. It was nothing more than the response we received from CHP. In the course of our conversation with District 11 Director Cory Binns, the fact was revealed that Caltrans does not include in its plans equestrian use of the public thoroughfare. This is a serious mistake. Equestrians pay taxes have the same constitutional and legal right to use of the public thoroughfare as any automobile, pedestrian or cyclists. Equestrian travel has been around thousands of years in this world.
The energy of the 3 Mules endless journey will not relent. It will continue to ensure equestrians their equal right and use of the public thoroughfare.
A few days after extending an offer to 3 Mules to drive them around the south corridor that has been closed to al except cyclists, or to give Little Girl shelter or feed during the storm, I had not heard anything from John. I wondered how they were faring and what success they had dealing with Cal Trans. John had requested a solution from them as they have not kept an open route for all to use, which is apparently required by state law.
I was in touch with Amanda Hicks and Bri Alvarez, who also wanted to offer assistance, and through messages I finally caught up to Amanda and was able to check in with John. First off, for all those concerned that Little Girl is suffering, she isn’t. She was resting under a tree while her owner picked up supplies. She nickered as he came back. Her weight is good, her hooves look good, she has a nice winter coat and looks healthy. Her packs are padded and balanced. She is absolutely not abused.
John told me that he had obtained an escort who is allowed to walk him through Camp Pendleton so he can traverse the “closed to pedestrians and equestrians area”. It is wonderful to know that he can continue on his own terms. God bless the man who is escorting him. I asked John to call me if his escort falls through, as I can probably help him find another one, or offer him a ride.
During our short conversation I learned that having a support base helps keep him safe in his journey. We spoke of the great lessons learned living outdoors with his equine companion. How it would be a great learning experience for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other groups to earn merit badges by making a trip through nature in this style. John used to hike and camp in BLM and park land, but now goes through more populated areas as well, showing that it is possible to create space everywhere to connect with nature and animals, and to live in greater harmony with others. I mentioned that he is inadvertently helping people like me. Equestrians who are rapidly losing trails and wilderness areas along with pastureland.
He said he has learned that the key to success in finding a solution is putting forth energy. That if enough energy is put out by enough people in a positive way the solution will come. He is incredibly knowledgeable and forward thinking. Speaking to him allowed me to envision a lot in just a few short minutes.
Godspeed John and Little Girl. I am sending positive energy your way and look forward to your return as it would be a great pleasure to join you for a few miles of your journey with a mustang. I believe in what you are doing. Thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us.
My girls are wondering if after they grow up I am going to wander the state with mules or mustangs now. What I am wondering is what it would be like to create a place that teaches people to do pack trips and connect with nature and animals. Kind of like an exploration camp with equines.
I HOPE EQUESTRIANS WILL CONTINUE TO OFFER 3 MULES SUPPORT IF THEY EVER NEED IT.
Last year, the Mules made their first attempt to breech the CALL-DUN-DRUM from the south end in Oceanside. This place this CALL-DUN-DRUM where the agencies that have administrative jurisdiction are unable to function in a rational, responsible way serving the public who has given them the assignment to move all legal modes of use (pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, automobiles, etc) safely and efficiently through its mist. Instead allowing only the High Speed Motorist (HSM) and bicyclists legal passage and denying all other rightful users their legal right to passage.
The Mules sent Caltrans and CHP an e-mail on January 21, 2019 offering a simple common sense solution to this festering CALL-DUN-DRUM. Call San Diego Humane Society (the agency which contracts with the State of California and San Diego County to handle animal issues that occur on state roadways and direct said agency to trailer the Mules or any horse person needing to traverse the 7.9 mile CALL-DUN-DRUM.
The response from CHP was misleading and inadequate. The response from Caltrans, the mother agency, has yet to be received. And so the CALL-DUN-DRUM continues to fester like an open wound unable to heel itself.
Last year, the Mules left a huge amount of energy at the south end of the CALL-DUN-DRUM. This year, the Mules will leave a likewise amount of energy at the north end of the CALL-DUN-DRUM.
The natural state of energy is to flow and move freely. The energy at the south gate will seek to connect with the energy at the north gate and assume its free-flowing natural state. The accumulated energy at the north and south gates will seek to connect and heal this festering sore on the I-5 Public Thoroughfare, which the agencies given the assignment to do so have obviously failed to do that. In the end, this festering wound on the I -5 Public Thoroughfare will not be solved by the agencies but by the energy created and directed by the people who know the value of a free and open public thoroughfare.
As the Mules have been wandering through the San Clemente area waiting to hear from Caltrans in regards to passage through the CALL-DUN-DRUM, we met and talked to many people. The value of the positive energy received is extreme. We will be taking that energy to the north end of the CALL-DUN-DRUM where we will continue to await a response from Caltrans.
The Mules emailed Caltrans and CHP on Monday, January 21, 2019 requesting trailer assistance thru the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM. Below is CHP Captain Pembleton reply back sent on Thursday, January 24 as well as the Mules response back to his email. We have not yet received a response from CalTrans.
1/24/2019 Email received from Captain Brent Pembleton, CHP Oceanside Area.
The next day, January 25, the Mules sent the following response back to Captain Pembleton.
On January 21, 2019, the Mules sent the following email to CalTrans and CHP agencies responsible for the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM, the 7.9 mile stretch where the Old Pacific Highway Trail ends at Las Pulgas Road to Oceanside. The Mules are still waiting to receive a response.
Subject: Trailer Assistance Requested I-5 San Diego County
To: Caltrans Director Laurie Berman Caltrans District 11 Cory Binns CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley CHP Deputy Commissioner Scott Silsbee Border Division Chief Jim Abele Captain Brent Pembleton
Dear Sirs/Madam: The Mules are delivering this letter to yourself to inform you that the Mules like last year will once again be needing to traverse the CALL-DUN-DRUM, the 7.9-mile stretch where the Old Pacific Highway Trail ends at Las Pulgas Road to Oceanside. Last year, we were trying to head north from Oceanside to the trail, when we (The Mules) were abruptly stopped by CHP and told to remove ourselves from the Public Thoroughfare. This 7.9-mile stretch of confusion where the rule of law has been suspended and was responsible for the Mules’s arrest and illegal incarceration on February 23, 2018. All citizens of the United States have the rightful and free use of the public thoroughfare guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It is unlawful to deny any one venue the right to that use.
The Mules will expect the events of last year not be repeated. In a few days, the Mules will be arriving to Old Pacific Highway Trail/Las Pulgas Road. The Mules are requesting a trailer ride to Oceanside in the 7.9-mile stretch of I-5 that is closed off to pedestrians and equestrians. Last year rather than using the trailer acquired by CHP to transport us thru the 7.9 mile CALL-DUN-DRUM, CHP used the service of the Humane Society trailer to take Little Girl 30-miles to Escondido Animal Shelter and myself 15-miles to Vista Detention Center.
In August 2015 when the Mules needed to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, which allows cyclists and pedestrians access to the sidewalk but not equestrians, the Golden Gate Bridge District contacted the Marin Humane Society, who picked us up on the north end of the bridge in a trailer and dropped us off in San Francisco. Since CHP contracts with the San Diego Humane Society, we are requesting a number to call when we reach Las Pulgas Road trailhead parking for trailer ride to Oceanside. No more than a three hour advance notice to Caltrans/CHP by any equestrian seeking to traverse the 7.9-mile Call Dun-Drum will be required.
The mission statement of Caltrans and California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of safety, service and security for workers and users. Caltrans strategic objective states, “Improve the quality of life for all Californians by providing mobility choice, increasing accessibility to all modes of transportation and creating transportation corridors not only for conveyance of people, goods, and services, but also as livable public spaces.”
The Mules and their nomadic way of life without question is one of those modes. I am a native Californian. My mules and I have lived this nomadic way of life for the past 35 years. We don’t live in houses and we don’t drive cars. We are always outside and this is our way of life. If the State of California/Caltrans mission statement is to improve the quality of life for all Californians, denying the Mules access to the Public Thoroughfare is a gross violation of the mission statement.
As the Mules understand from our experience from last year, Caltrans/CHP were the responsible agencies that had us arrested. We are requesting these agencies to inform San Diego Humane Society, which we understand handles the large animal issues for San Diego County, that the Mules will be needing a trailer ride thru the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM. Please provide the contact name and number for the appropriate person to handle this issue so we can arrange a trailer ride to get thru this 7.9-mile section of the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM.
John Sears The Mules 3MULES.COM email: ThreeMuleJourney@gmail.com