Juan Bautista De Anza Historic Trail – Trail of Native Americans, Spanish Explorers & Pioneers

In 1776, while American patriots fought for their independence from England, Spanish Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza led more than 240 men, women and children, 695 horses and mules, 385 Texas Longhorn bulls and cows, some 1,800 miles to establish a settlement at San Francisco Bay. These families were the first colonists to come overland across the frontier of New Spain into present-day California. The trail was an attempt to ease the course of Spanish colonization of California by establishing a major land route north for many to follow.

The 1,210-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which extends from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California, the Central Coast to San Francisco, was designated a National Historic Trail in 1990 and a National Millennium trail in 1999 and part of the National Park Service unit.

In 2005, Caltrans began posting signs on roads that overlap with the trail route, so that people can follow the trail. The path taken by Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza is today on lands that are in private hands, on government military bases, or in some places accessible only to automobiles and inaccessible to pedestrians and equestrians.

Over the years the Mules have followed the Juan Bautista De Anza Historic Trail during our migratory journey and visited the sites along the trail such as the Presidio in San Francisco, Mission San Francisco de Asis, the Vicente Martinez adobe at the John Muir Historic Site in Martinez, Mission San Antonio de Padua, Mission San Luis Obispo, Mission San Gabriel, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Bautista Canyon in Hemet, and Anza-Borrego Desert.

Yesterday, January 2, 2020, the Mules walked the Old Stage Road historic route from San Juan Bautista to Salinas. The night before we stopped to rest for the night near the trailhead. In the morning, we met Kelly who stopped to greet the mules. After we ate breakfast and packed up, we headed for the Old Stage Road trailhead a hundred yards away.

Kelly meeting Little Ethel in San Juan Bautista
Kelly meeting Little Ethel
The Mules at Juan Bautista De Anza trailhead in San Juan Bautista

While on the trail, we met Keith and Thais, but forgot to get their photo. They sent us the following e-mail following our meeting:

We first heard about you 2 years ago when we were at Buck’s in Woodside and read the article about your adventures. We had no idea that we would meet you today on the De Anza Trail near San Juan Bautista. It was a thrill to for us to see all 3 of the mules walking the trail as we were sitting there eating lunch. Thank you for stopping to chat with us briefly on your journey. We also hike for the same reason you walk – to keep that machinery of the brain in good working order. Thanks for that reminder. Safe travels, always.

Keith and Thais

After reading this email, found it incredible that Keith and Thais remembered reading about the Mules from Buck’s Woodside menu which the Mules stopped to visit in the Fall 2015 after we met the owner Jamis who invited us to his equestrian friendly restaurant with a hitching post out front. Buck’s sent us a copy of the Winter 2015 menu that the Mules were featured.

Buck's Woodside Menu
Buck’s Woodside menu Winter 2015 that included article on the Mules

We continued our journey on the Anza Trail until we reached Salinas where we spent the night.

Where we spent the night in Salinas. This morning, we packed up and continuing South on the endless journey of the Nation, the Three Mules Nation.

Where we spent the night in Salinas
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Step by Step Accounting of the 3 Mules Contact with CHP on New Year’s Day

The Mules were walking east on the shoulder of Chittenden Road (CA-129) in San Benito County towards San Juan Bautista. Suddenly a California Highway Patrol (CHP) cruiser appeared and stopped in front of us. A CHP officer exited his cruiser and requested we stop, freeze in place. We did not do that. Instead, we turned around and walked about 20 yards to a much safer place than the shoulder of the highway.

The Mules waiting on the side of the road

The officer followed us and upon reaching us asked where we were going. We replied, “Where we choose to go and we have the constitutional right in these United States to do just that using all city, county and state roads, which make up the public thoroughfare to travel and move freely in this country. The officer replied, “You’re on a highway and you do not have the right to be on the highway.”

The Mules knew of course the officer at best was mistaken and knew nothing of the vehicle code he was suppose to be enforcing at worst case was lying (Supreme Court and Federal Court decisions allow police to lie without any fear of accountability) and they do a lot.

“State Route 129 in San Benito County is classified as a Rural Minor Arterial* and is not included in the California Freeway and Expressway System. It is included in the Interregional Road System from Highway 1 to US 101, but is not designated as a High Emphasis or Focus Route. SR 129 is not part of the Scenic Highway System or the National Highway system.”

*Arterials. These facilities make up the principal network for through‐traffic within a community and often between communities. Arterials have between two and six traffic lanes and provide connections between residential areas, shopping areas, places of employment, recreational areas, and other places of assembly.  

San Benito County’s General Plan Chapter 6 Transportation and Circulation page 6-9

So the situation remained in limbo with the Mules asserting their right to use the public thoroughfare Highway 129 and the CHP continuing to lie and tell us we were breaking the law by being on the highway. And if we got on it again we the Mules would be arrested and taken to jail.

San Benito County CHP officers

Then the supervising officer told the Mules, “We don’t want to take you to jail, you’re not going to jail. Let’s find a way to solve the problem.” The Mules replied in no way are we going to negotiate our right to the public thoroughfare away. The supervising officer replied, “We are not asking you to do that. You can walk on the shoulder but not in the lane of traffic.” The Mules replied that’s exactly what we were doing when we were stopped by the officer. The supervising officer then said, “We will give you a CHP escort on 129 to San Juan Bautista.”

At that point, a lady appeared and introduced herself and said she has followed the 3 Mules page for many years. She then said we should take School Road over the hill to Anzar Road, which would take us into San Juan Bautista, which was no more than 100 yards from where we were. The Mules said good.

The CHP escorted us the 100 yards to School Road and left. We have not seen them since.

The Mules

Little Ethel and Little Girl on our way to San Juan Bautista on School Road

Photos of other people we met also walking along the road on New Year’s Day as we headed toward San Juan Bautista. It’s always good to see other people walking too.

Mother and daughter with Little Girl and Little Ethel on School Road, San Juan Bautista
Mother and daughter with Little Girl and Little Ethel on School Road, San Juan Bautista
Other pedestrians the Mules passed walking along the road
People we met walking along the road as we headed to San Juan Bautista
The Mules in San Juan Bautista
Our written version of this post page 1
Our written version of this post page 2
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December Rains

Young green grass coming up everywhere from the past couple weeks rain. There will be plenty of feed for the mules as we move South to San Diego and hopefully plenty of oatmeal for the Monk.

Mules enjoying life, living in harmony with the energy that flows around, under, over and through them, the energy of the web of life. It’s what makes life worth living. Nothing else. Without it we are all doomed.

Follow our travels in the Mule Tracker.

Little Ethel and Little Girl  making our way over the East Bay hills

Makeshift bed to stay off the wet ground.

Makeshift bed to stay off the wet ground.
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Little Ethel

Report to the 3 Mules Nation on our new friend and addition to our endless journey – Little Ethel

The Mules went to Texas using the bus to get to Amarillo and look at two mules which we had found on an internet site that appeared to meet our requirements to join us on our journey, but they were not what we had expected. [See Amarillo, Texas post.]

We spent about a week in Amarillo scouring the internet, living outside and using a bike as transport. We were receiving many leads of mules for sale from the many people who were following the 3 Mules Facebook page and website 3Mules.com. However, most good leads were more than a hundred miles away and my scheme of using a bicycle to go from one lead to the next no longer seemed too practical.

The Mules decided to return to California. A lady named Barbara e-mailed us that she would like to pay our bus fare back to California. We accepted and thanked her for her support and generosity. So the pink carryall bag and myself traveled back to California by bus.

Pink carry all bag at bus depot
Our pink carry all bag at bus depot

The day before we were set to return to California, Annie, whose place where Little Girl was staying while the Monk was in Texas, found an internet site in Arizona advertising a 10 year old sorrel molly mule, 15 hands, 2 inches height, over a thousand pounds and halter broke only for $600 and named Little Ethel (isn’t that interesting?). Annie messaged me if I would be interested in Little Ethel. For $600, the monk replied, “Absolutely.”

Ad post for Little Ethel
Ad post for Little Ethel

Annie contacted the owner using her skill and experience, assessed the authenticity of the advertisement and circumstance. She then messaged the Mules her opinion. We messaged her back, yes please, purchase that mule named Little Ethel. Annie arranged with an Arizona vet to have the mule checked out and get Coggins test done. [A “Coggins” is a blood test that detects antibodies to the disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). This is a virus that can cause affected horses and mules to have fevers, anemia (low red blood cell count), edema (stocking up), or weight loss/muscle wasting. EIA is a relative of the virus that causes HIV in humans. Horses that become infected will carry the disease for life.]

Coggins Test Results
Coggins Test Results for Little Ethel

A couple of days prior to arriving in Texas, Wendy from the Three Mules Nation, who we met a several years ago while in Orange and stayed in her backyard for a night, messaged the Mules that her husband Michael and herself would be passing through Amarillo on the 19th of May on their way back to California and would have an empty space in their horse trailer should we have found a mule and need transport for it back to California.

Annie contacted Wendy and made arrangements for Little Ethel to be picked up in Dewey, Arizona and brought to Annie’s place in California where Little Girl is staying.

After Wendy arrived in Dewey, Arizona, she took and sent us these two photos of Little Ethel.

Little Girl, Annie and Little Ethel
Little Girl, Annie and Little Ethel

Little Ethel turned out to be everything her previous owner said she was and more. The three of us, Little Girl, Little Ethel and myself will be heading northward on our journey.

Little Girl training Little Ethel
Little Girl training Little Ethel

The Mules say thank you to all those of the 3 Mules Nation for giving their energy and support which has materialized into Little Ethel, a new mule and friend ready to serve this Nation of like-minded people who know the extreme value of living, walking in harmony and balance with our home, the Earth.

The Mules

Note: While our trip to Texas appeared to be a failure, in the end, due to the energy of the Nation, the 3 Mules Nation, harbored and waiting to materialize from the collective effort of all those of that Nation, a new friend Little Ethel was made to serve us all.

Little Girl with pink carry-all and Little Ethel grazing
Little Girl with pink carry-all and Little Ethel grazing in the desert.


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Amarillo, Texas

5/7/2019 – DAY 1 AMARILLO, TX. The Mules can’t get over how clean the streets are in Texas. No trash laying around anywhere, unlike California where you’re always walking through trash and litter. It was so unexpected to see. It truly is different in that respect.

White mule

In the morning, we met the gentleman who is bringing us to see a couple 16 hand mules that we traveled here to see. We first saw this nice 7-year old strong mule, but it is white and we don’t want that color as it makes the mules too easy to spot at night for thieves and others with less than a legitimate intentions.

Hopefully the two mules that well see today will be what we want so we can walk back to California. The tornado that was forecasted didn’t materialize.

5/8/2019 – Day 2 AMARILLO, TX. Made contact with the person who had the two mules for sale that was suppose to be 10 years old. This one photo was well over 20 years old with no front teeth and the other one had a bad front foot. So we continue our search.

Trying to find a bicycle so I can put my necessities on it and travel around rather than riding the bus, which will still leave you a long way from looking at a mule.

Also photos where me and the pink bag spent the night. It rained cats and dogs nonstop hard and steady all night.

I am still searching to purchase two 15.3 – 16 hand stout draft mules, 3 to 15 years of age. Must be easy to shoe, healthy and located within the United States. Do not want white. If there are any in the Amarillo Texas area that I am currently located, let me know. If you have mules for sale that fits this description, please private message photos, location, price and your contact information.

Thank you to those who have sent us leads, which we have been following up if it fits our criteria.

5/9/19 – DAY 3 AMARILLO, TX. Spent the day making phone calls and following up on leads provided to us by the Nation, the Three Mules Nation, since the mules we saw yesterday didn’t fit our criteria.

Map of United States

5/10/19 DAY 4 CANYON, TX: After walking 15 miles south from Amarillo to Canyon carrying all this stuff, I decided that I must get a bicycle. Taking a bus is way too expensive and still won’t get one close to areas with mules that one wants to look at. Bought this 18-speed bike at Walmart for $78, an unbelievable price because back in the 70s, I paid $100 for a ten speed. Managed to get my stuff tied on and will go from one place to the next looking for a mule. It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d rather be walking with a mule than riding a bicycle. All the more reason to find a mule as soon as possible.

18 speed bicycle

5/11/19 Day 5 AMARILLO, TX: Where we slept last night in Amarillo.

The Mules are still searching to purchase two 15.3 – 16 hand stout draft mules, 3 to 15 years of age. Must be easy to shoe and healthy. We don’t want white as it makes the mules too easy to spot at night for thieves and others with less than a legitimate intentions.

If you have mules for sale that fits this description, please private message photos, location, price and your contact information. Would like to see photos of teeth and video of back feet being picked up.

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The Pink Carry-All

While in Palmdale, California, the Monk was waiting for a bus to Texas. The Monk went behind a building, found a water spigot and was getting clean when he noticed this pink carry-all bag resting in a pile of garbage out in the sagebrush. He approached the bag out of curiosity as he was standing there, looking at the bag, checking its condition, wondering if it could be put to good use for his trip to Texas. The pink bag began to speak. The bag asked the usual questions: “Where are you going and where are you from?”

The monk replied, “We are from wherever. We have our feet in any moment of time. We are going to Texas to look for mules.”

The pink bag then said, “I’ve been stuck in this pile of trash for months. Could I go with you and help with your quest for mules?”

The monk replied, “Can we use yourself to carry our stuff until we find some mules?”

The pink bag responded, “Of course.”

Pink Carryall Greyhound Bus 3

So the mules being alone but never alone have acquired a friend in the guise of a pink carry-all bag to accompany and assist us in our quest to bring the Nation, the 3 Mules Nation, to a condition of full power, full speed.

Note: Another living down to the bone example of the energy harbored in this place in which the Mules reside. A place for anybody and everybody who will travel with his/ her animal companions in one of any four directions with love, respect and reverence for this beautiful creation known as Earth materializing into what the Mules need at any one point of time. This time a pink carry-all bag offering assistance and friendship in our quest for mule companions.

Pink Carryall Greyhound Bus 2

May 6, 2019
The Monk and the pink carry-all bag have made it to their destination in Texas after 36 hours on the bus. The trip took six hours longer than scheduled as the bus got a flat tire in Grants, New Mexico. Tuesday weather forecast here in Texas: “Strong thunderstorms, damaging winds, large hail, and possibly a tornado with some storms. High 74F.” Pink carry-all bag continuing to offer assistance and friendship in our quest for mule companions. Some photos from our travels in the past 36 hours.

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Makeshift Shelter

A makeshift shelter put together from what we found that was laying around. The nomadic life style live as close to and with the natural world as you can in anyone moment of time and reap the rewards of those moments of time. This plastic swimming pool shield us from the freezing cold temps as don’t have sleeping bag or tent with me.

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First night away from Little Girl

Slept here last night without the company of Little Girl. Little Girl is keeping company with the guy pictured, while the Monk is out alone looking for a mule like the guy pictured.

The Mules are still searching to purchase two 15.3 – 16 hand stout draft mules, 3 to 15 years of age. Must be easy to shoe and healthy. We don’t want white as it makes the mules too easy to spot at night for thieves and others with less than a legitimate intentions.

If you have mules for sale that fits this description, please private message photos, location, price and your contact information. Would like to see photos of teeth and video of back feet being picked up.

Where we slept last night in Palmdale

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The Mules and Their Mythology

On a warm summer’s day many thousands of years ago, the Mules were crossing a wide open valley where they had stopped to graze and rest a bit. Then all of a sudden the sky became a brilliant blue like the mules had never seen before. All the plants grasses rocks and trees suddenly became multi-dimensional and intense.

The Mules stood in awe at what they were experiencing. Then the Mules realized they were in the presence of God. The Mules looked to the left and then to the right and they saw all their fellow companions Grizzly, Elk, Badger, Skunk, Eagle, Salmon, whom they shared their lives on Earth with coming in and around them.

The Mules and the animal kingdom stood in awe and waited for what was to come then God spoke. God said, “Mules, you’ve been here on Earth long enough I offer you the gates to heaven.”

All the spectating members of the animal kingdom became extremely saddened because they did not want to lose the energy and company of their longtime companions. The Mules then spoke back to God, “No we do not seek the gates to heaven for we love the earth so much we can never conceive not being here.”

The bright blue intense sky lost its unusual luster and the intensity felt by the Mules diminished. God’s presence had left abruptly. Many days had come to pass and the Mules once again were grazing another long beautiful valley contemplating the Majesty of this place where they found themselves forever wanting to be.

Then all of a sudden as before the sky became a brilliant lustrous blue and an embracing force of intensity surrounded the Mules and all the animal kingdom which had come once again to witness this encounter between God and the Mules a long period of a mystifying calm ensued.

Then God spoke, “Mules, I’ve created this place in which you can reside, prosper and enjoy this Natural World and its web of Life which I have created. You the Mules will be required to live with love, respect and reverence all day every day one step at a time for my creation. Show all those who pass through this earthly dimension the extreme importance to themselves and their future to maintain the integrity and well-being of Life on this Earth, a place you the Mules have chosen to stay.” God then said to Mules, “Deal or no deal?”

The Mules replied without hesitation, “Deal.”

So this is how the Mules many thousands of years ago became to be and reside in this place. A place for anybody and everybody who wishes to stay on Earth and give all their energy to God’s creation by the sacred act of walking all day every day one step at a time

The Mules and Their Mythology page 1
The Mules and Their Mythology page 2
The Mules and Their Mythology page 3
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Norco – HorseTown USA

Last night, the Mules spent the night in Norco in Riverside County, California, also know as HorseTown U.S.A. We found a vacant field where we spent the night. Upon awakening in the morning, I took Little Girl across the street and got her some water and then grazed her along the horse path for about an hour.

I returned to the place we spent the night and fixed breakfast. After enjoying breakfast and watching Little Girl take a nap, we packed up and proceeded on our way north though Norco.

Little Girl sleeping
Little Girl taking a nap

We met a number of followers of our Facebook and website pages and enjoyed the conversations. After a mile or so, we saw Norco’s sign HorseTown USA. According to city ordinances, the architecture of Norco “shall reflect a desired Western theme,” including qualities “described as rural, informal, traditional, rustic, low-profile and equestrian oriented.

As a horse community, there are few sidewalks in the city of Norco, instead there are horse trails and riders can ride to town and tie their horses at the many hitching rails and corrals placed close to businesses.

Horse corral with water trough in downtown Norco
Horse corral with water trough in downtown Norco

We thank the town of Norco for the pleasant experience as short as it was. It was nice not to be bothered by police officers telling us they were getting calls about a starving horse, a loose horse, a horse dying from lack of water, or a drunken homeless man leading a horse down the road, etc. etc. or expressing general concern as to the sight of the Mules. This did not happen. It was a pleasant experience in Norco, HorseTown USA. 

Now we are well out of Norco. It is now time to stop on the public thoroughfare for we have been walking most of the day as any equestrian traveler does and we will claim our right to stop here, fix our dinner, go to sleep on the public domain/thoroughfare as any citizen of the United States has a constitutional right to do so.

Emergency Stopping Only sign

Pictured is a sign that says, Emergency Stopping Only. That is an illegal post. No city or county or state has the legal right to post any sign that will prevent any legal user of said thoroughfare to use it in a responsible way. This sign is absolutely attempting to do that. It’s entirely illegal under the constitution of the United States. The public thoroughfare within the United States belongs to the public.

The Mules are a member of that public and we can without doubt unequivocally prove our safe and responsible use of it. We will not accept any form of exclusion from it. 

The Mules

We we stopped to rest for the night
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