Coming into the City of Irvine this morning, the Mules met some Irvine Police Department police officers. They stopped their vehicle, came out to meet us, and told us we were breaking a city ordinance by walking on the sidewalk.
The Mules told the officers that all streets, city, state and county roads in this country are public thoroughfares. They are not for the exclusive use of a high-speed machine called an automobile. The Mules informed the officers if the sidewalk was the safest place for us to be that’s where we would be walking not down the road, facing drivers moving at more than safe speeds, distracted by God only knows what hiding behind tinted glass. We then left and told the officers to have a nice day.
Five minutes or so later, the officers passes by, pulled out around the corner, stopped their vehicle and we observed them taking our picture. The Mules took their picture. About another 10 minutes or so went by and the City Animal Control vehicle passed us by, pulled up in front of us in a parking lot and observed us walking up the street. We stopped and took their picture.
For some reason unbeknownst to us, the city of Irvine has something to fear from a weak little man walking two mules down the public thoroughfare.
Is it really us they fear? I think not. What the City of Irvine doesn’t like is a weak little man and two mules walking freely how they choose, when they choose, down the public thoroughfare. The City of Irvine does not like Freedom being expressed in its most basic down to the bone way. But that’s unfortunate because the Mules will never stop walking freely on this Earth in the most basic and down to the bone way, a constitutional guaranteed right of ALL United States citizens.
We decided to go back to Bakersfield and buy horseshoes. We walked between 15 and 20 miles. It was about 4:30pm, we were going north on Allen Road and Blain stopped and asked us if we needed a place to stay for the night. We said yes, so we stayed at Blaine’s place last night. Thank you Blain for your kindness to the Mules as they travel South towards San Diego.
Upon setting out this morning, we came apon a palm tree dropping many small dates. They were quite good. The mules have feasted on this particular variety all over Southern California.
As we were walking south on Coffee Road, a Bakersfield Police Department police car went by us and circled around the corner. Not too long after that another one did the same. Shortly after that Kern County Animal Services animal control came around the corner. As we were approaching the stop light, an officer appeared in front of us.
He said, “I understand you’re trying to get rid of your animals.” I responded no I wasn’t. He said somebody said it was posted on our Facebook page that we were giving away our mules. We said goodbye. Have a nice day and continued walking.
Question: why would Bakersfield Police and animal control be bothering us about a private matter that’s not true to begin with?
November 4, 2018
This evening, the endangered San Joaquin kit fox stopped to visit us.
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:
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.
UPDATE: Attorney Candice Fields of Candice Fields Law, who assists the Mules and the Three Mules Nation, sent us an update in regards to our I-5 case: The San Diego District Attorney decided not to file criminal charges against the Mules for Penal Code Section 148(a) Obstruction, which means there will be no case at all, and therefore no hearing on Friday, April 6, 2018.
The District Attorney said that they did not make this decision because they felt the law, as written, would not support a conviction. They made their decision because they were concerned about jury nullification. They felt their case was not winnable with a jury who might ignore the law and find the Mules not guilty.
For those not familiar with this area, United States Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located on the Southern California coast in San Diego County spanning over 125,000 acres, bordered by the city of Oceanside to the south and Orange county to the north. For an 8-mile section where Interstate 5 (I-5) goes through Camp Pendleton, the Old Pacific Coast Trail for non-motorized use discontinues. The only way for non-motorized travelers to pass through this section of the California coast without walking on the side of the interstate is to enter through Pendleton’s Main Gate near Oceanside and walk 8.3 miles through the base to get to the Las Pulgas Gate, where the Old Pacific Highway Trail begins again to get to San Clemente. One cannot walk along 17-miles of the sandy beaches on the coastline that parallels I-5 as this also is part of the base. The Mules have taken the Pendleton Main Gate-Las Pulgas Gate (and vice versa) route three times in the past four years with military escort without any issues.
Arriving at the Main Gate guard shack, I secured Little Girl and went into the guard shack requesting passage through the base to the Las Pulgas Gate so that we could continue our journey onto the Old Pacific Highway Trail to San Clemente. The guard said to wait while he checked with the PMO. We waited outside for about half an hour. The guard came back and said we would not be allowed to go through the base. I told the guard we had passed through there three times previous with a military police escort. He said he was sorry but the PMO said we could not pass and we would have to leave immediately. So we did.
Upon getting off the base, I phoned California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Oceanside and spoke to the CHP watch commander informing him that I would be walking north on I-5 from Oceanside because I was refused entry into Camp Pendleton and there was no other alternative route other than I-5. The watch commander told me that I would not be allowed on I-5. We said, when there is no alternative route, we have the right to use the only one route that is available, and that by default is I-5. He repeated his statement that we were not allowed on I-5. I responded we will be walking on I-5. The watch commander said, “Use your best judgement.”
We then headed for I-5 and got on it. The shoulder was wide with other bicycles on it.
After walking about 1.5 miles, a CHP officer on a motorcycle came towards us and stopped. He informed us that we could go no further and that we would have to turn around and get off the freeway. We said we had the right to be here because there was no other way to travel north to San Clemente other than I-5. He repeated his assertion that we must turn around and get off. I said I would not. He said if we didn’t I would be arrested and Little Girl would be impounded. So, that’s what happened.
I was taken to Vista Detention Facility. Little Girl was picked up by animal control and taken to the animal shelter. I was in jail for about 5 hours, charged with Penal Code 148(A) obstruction failing to obey a police officer, given a court date, then released.
I was told by the jail that my property was being held at the CHP. I called CHP from the jail lobby and was told by the lady who answered the phone that the property officer was out for the day and would not be back until Monday morning. If I wanted to get my property, I would need to make an appointment to talk to the property officer on Monday. I told the lady over the phone that I needed my cell phone and my wallet and various items that were in my backpack and I could not wait until Monday. She said she was sorry, but the property officer was out for the day and he would not be back until Monday.
I decided that I would go to the CHP office across the street from the jail and see what I could do. Upon entering the office, a uniformed officer was in the room. He asked me what it was he could do for me. I told him that I was informed that my property was here. He said hold on, I’ll see what I can do. About 10 minutes later, he came back and told me that my property was not in their possession and that it was at the Palomar Airport Road Animal Shelter. He gave me a number and an address. I asked him if he could call them and make sure that was where my property was and that they had possession of it. He got on the phone, made the call, and apparently talked to somebody there who gave him confirmation that yes indeed they had my property.
The CHP officer would not allow me to use there phone, so I walked back to the jail and called the number myself to confirm the information given to me by the CHP officer but I could not get through.
I returned to the CHP office, and informed the officer that I called the number he gave me and was not able to reach anybody there. I inquired why he was able to get through and I was not. He said he didn’t know, but he assured me that he had spoken to the Palomar Airport Road animal shelter and that was where my property was.
From there I started walking at approximately 4pm, I left the CHP office in Vista and started walking to animal shelter in Carlsbad. I walked until about 9:00 pm, found some bushes to take shelter, stayed through the night, awoke in the morning about 6AM, and continued my way to the Palomar Airport Animal Shelter. Upon arriving there around Saturday morning 8:30am, I talked to a lady that was walking a dog if they had a mule on the premises. She said I could go around in the back where they keep the large animals and take a look. There were no large animals there. I asked her if my property was in their possession. She went inside to find out, returned and stated clearly that it was not in their possession. So I asked her where would it be? She said Escondido Humane Society takes large animals. It was her best guess that was where my mule and property would be.
I got on the phone, made some calls and confirmed that Little Girl was 16-miles away at the Humane Society shelter in Escondido. I spent the rest of Saturday walking and riding the bus to get to the Escondido Animal Shelter to retake possession of Little Girl and my property. The Mules say thank you to L. Monreal, Carlie and the staff of folks at the San Diego Humane Society (Escondido) for taking such good care of Little Girl while the Monk was in jail.
I am not admitting guilt to the charge against me, but this is a truthful account pertaining to our arrest, charges brought of obstruction. and then our subsequent release for walking with Little Girl on Interstate 5.
We will be contacting California’s Department of Transportation CalTrans Chief in Sacramento and the CHP watch commander and once again informing that we need to walk on I-5 as there is no alternative route. The base is not an acceptable route, which requires waiting 4-5 days for permission to be granted. At which time if we are again refused and threatened with arrest by CHP, we will request CHP escort on I-5 where traffic can be slowed down to a safe level for our passage. We will not accept trailer transportation from a private party. We will be asserting our right and all equestrians’ rights for a safe means of moving on the public thoroughfare.
The Mules are also in search of an attorney who is interested in representing us pro bono at our San Diego County Superior Court date appearance on 4/6/2018 7:30am in Vista, CA (325 S. Melrose Dr.). If interested, contact the Mules via email at ThreeMuleJourney@gmail.com.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares 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. (b) In accordance with the policy declared under subdivision (a), 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, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries. (Added by Stats. 2000, Ch. 833, Sec. 6. Effective January 1, 2001.)
California Department of Transportation Manual Chapter Topic 105 – Pedestrian Facilities Topic 105 – Pedestrian Facilities 105.1 General Policy The California Vehicle Code Section 21949 has stated a policy for the Department to provide safe and convenient travel for pedestrians. Conventional highways can be used by pedestrians. Although the Department will work to provide safe and convenient pedestrian travel on these highways, not all of these highways will contain sidewalks and walkways. Connections between different modes of travel should be considered when designing highway facilities, as all people may become pedestrians when transferring to a transit based facility. Pedestrian use near transit facilities should be considered during the planning phase of transportation improvement projects. See DIB 82 for accessibility guidance of pedestrian facilities.
(b) All State highway projects administered by Caltrans or others with pedestrian facilities must be designed in accordance with the requirements in Design Information Bulletin 82, “Pedestrian Accessibility Guidelines for Highway Projects.”
U.S. Supreme Court ruling “The right of a citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but a common right which he has under his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Under this constitutional guaranty one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another’s rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct.”
Officer Elness couldn’t resist just had to get some Mule energy right from the source. And, while walking along the public thoroughfare in Manteca, Stephanie and Carlee from animal control stopped to greet the Mules.
Yesterday late afternoon, we arrived in Sanger, California and stopped to rest between two buildings. Earlier in the morning while we were in Reedley, Linda posted that she could bring hay if we needed it. When we found our spot to rest for the night, we wrote Linda back asking if her offer to bring hay to us was still available. She said yes. So the kids had nice hay for dinner and breakfast thanks to Linda, Matthew and Jacob.
As we were packing up to leave in the morning, Javier and Efrain from Apache Smog and Tire in the building next to us, came over and asked what we were doing and what we were all about. We talked a bit and they looked up our website. Javier said that Academy Feed Store is 3-miles down the road and asked if we needed anything. We said that we needed two horseshoe files. He said to go to the feed store, and if the store had what we needed, tell the store to give him a call and he would pay for it. We walked to the feed store, which had what we needed and they called Javier. Thank you Javier for your kind support toward the mules.
While securing the kids in a shopping center parking lot so that we could go buy bread, an animal control officer told us that we were not allowed to be walking through the City of Sanger. We said that we had the right to walk in any public thoroughfare in this country. I went in the store to buy a loaf of bread and when I came out the animal control officer was still there. The officer said he had looked at our website. We talked briefly and went our separate ways.
We went to deliver the Declaration of Emergency (DOE) to Sanger City Hall, then continued our way towards Fresno.
In the past two years of walking and hand delivering the Declaration of Emergency (DOE) to over 120 city halls throughout the state of California, including Governor Jerry Brown’s Office in the State Capitol and the Golden Gate ridge Administrative office, this is the first time that the Mules have experienced a reception such as we received by the City of Stanton.
On Sunday, November 22, 2015, the Mules delivered the DOE and MCL to Westminster and Stanton city halls. Stanton City Hall was closed with not a soul in sight. Oftentimes when we arrive at a city hall after business hours, we simply drop off our documents at the front door either by inserting in mail slot, slipping under, leaving by, or taping to the door, and continue on our way.
Upon arriving at Stanton City Hall, we were met by a Stanton code enforcement officer asking why we were there. We said we came to deliver the DOE and MCL. He said, “Let me see them.” Then, he started to assert that the mules could not be here in front of city hall. Then a City of Stanton park ranger showed up (man in blue shirt in this photo) and called the Orange County Sheriff.
Four Orange County Sheriff showed up in force and asked us the same repetitive questions previously asked by the city code enforcement officer and park ranger. Who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here? What is this document? When are you leaving Stanton? Where are you staying? Where are you going? Why do you have these animals? and so on and so on…I presented my identification, the DOE and MCL, as well as my card that displays the 3 Mules website and Facebook address that they could look us up.
After a long period of time being grilled by the county sheriffs, Orange County animal control was called. Upon arriving, the animal control officer got out of her truck with ropes in hand, ready for an impoundment action. She then went back to her truck looking for a violation that would justify impoundment. Nothing found, the Supervisor was summoned. After another long period of time, the supervisor showed up asking us the same repetitive questions.
After that, they all left and the Mules left as peacefully and quietly as they came, walking with free flowing energy that flows through us, around us, over and under us all day every day, one step at a time.
The Mules will continue delivering the DOE and bringing its intensifying energy and magic to all places of consequence. Stamping in and stamping down the absolute necessity for a multi-use trail system in this state and country where we can practice, cultivate and use our human connection to the Natural World.
Paramount, CA – November 17, 2015 Pictured is where we stopped yesterday afternoon at 4:30pm in the City of Paramount. After securing the kids to some trees and removing their packs, we prepared dinner. Upon completing our meal, it became dark so we put the kids on picket lines and stayed the night. Getting up in the morning, we fixed breakfast, ate, packed up the kids who were ready and rested for a new day to spread the seeds of magic and mystery that the Mules carry.
The Mules say thank you to the city of Paramount for the kindness and support they showed the Mules for allowing us to stop and rest for the night. The Mules also want to thank the City of Paramount for being a stellar example of how anybody traveling in transit going from one place to the next whether by horse, bicycle, on foot, etc., must be treated.
This independent self reliant means of moving yourself (how you choose, when you choose, where you choose) is the backbone to freedom in this country. A cherished freedom that many have given life and limb to preserve. Thank you to the people of the City of Paramount.
Lakewood, CA – November 18, 2015 This afternoon, the Mules stopped by the City of Lakewood City Hall to deliver the Declaration of Emergency (DOE). When we arrived, the city hall staff came out to greet us and were very welcoming to the Mules. They kindly posed for a group photo. The gentleman holding the DOE said that he would hand deliver our important document, which declares the need for an interstate trail system, to the Mayor of Lakewood. Thank you to the people in the City of Lakewood for your kind heartedness.
San Clemente, CA – January 22, 2015 In contrast, early in January 2015, the Mules were traveling on the ages old trail now called the El Camino Real going through the City of San Clemente and were not treated with the same kindness and respect that we received from the people of Paramount last night and the city of Lakewood today.
On January 22, 2015 at 4am, the Mules were woken up by San Clemente police officer who told us that we could not sleeping in this vacant lot in which he found us. The City of San Clemente has strict no camping ordinances. He asked us when we would be leaving. We said we would leave when it was light and he said okay and left. About 8:30am, we continued our journey south on the El Camino Real when Little Girl started to show a light lameness in her front foot. As we continued, her limp became pronounced. To prevent further injury, we stopped at another vacant lot to inspect her foot, which was quite sensitive. We knew that we needed to seek help with someone with a horse trailer to bring her to an equine vet to get checked. Took the pack off the mules and started making phone calls, leaving messages to people I knew to seek help. None of our contacts were able to arrive that day (January 22) with a trailer.
About 9pm, San Clemente police officer arrived. We explained our circumstances as to why we were there and could not physically move due to Little Girl’s injury. The officer called animal control and we waited for quite a while before animal control showed up. Animal control officer took a very quick look at a distance, had Little Girl walk a few steps on soft dirt, and made a comment that Little Girl did not look lame to her, and then left. At that point the police officer decided to issue the citation based on her opinion.
The next day, friends arrived with a trailer to pick us up to bring us to San Juan Capistrano. We could not meet the vet immediately and rested Little Girl while we waited for our appointment on January 26. On January 26, San Juan Capistrano equine veterinarian Dr. Mark Secor gave Little Girl an exam, including x-rays. Dr. Secor wrote in his examination report: “Exam: mild LF lameness noted at walk, certain steps – tight circle to left more exaggerated, mild high lateral hoof well, mild ups DP’s, les palpates WNL. Moderate sensitivity to hoof testers… Suspect cause of lameness – resolving abscess.
The Monk followed the instructions on the citation, submitted a check by the payment deadline and requested to contest citation via mail (submitting our letter and vet expert diagnosis with payment) instead of having an Administrative Hearing in person which would require mules to walk back to San Clemente. The Mules made several phone calls to request in regards to an appeal while we were nearby and was told that they were backlogged in processing citations. On March 2, we received a certified letter that stated “THIS IS THE SECOND HEARING DATE – IT CANNOT BE RESCHEDULED”. The Mules never received a letter informing us about a date for a first hearing. Also, we sent Dr. Secor’s exam as evidence that Little Girl was lame.
The Mules found it unreasonable for San Clemente to cite us and retain our $100 citation fee as we had a valid reason for why we could not PHYSICALLY leave town by walking due to Little Girl’s lameness in her foot. We were waiting for friends to come with a horse trailer to pick us up, which wasn’t available to arrive until the next day. We submitted written letter of appeal with veterinarian diagnosis confirming Little Girl’s lameness due to abscess in hoof. San Clemente rejected our written request for appeal and required us to appear in person back in San Clemente even though we had indicated that we would not be able to walk back in time due to our distance. As well, after explaining how we live a nomadic life in our initial letter to San Clemente, it is unreasonable for the city to wait more than two months for an administrative hearing date when we called to inquire multiple times while we were within walking distance to appeal.
The Mules are returning to San Clemente, CA In a few days, the Mules will be once again traveling this ages old trail now called the El Camino Real. Through the City of San Clemente once again we will be stopping there to rest for the night.
The Mules will be sending San Clemente Mayor Chris Hamm and San Clemente City Council members a letter informing them of our return to the City of San Clemente and we hope the treatment we received earlier this year will not be repeated. For the Mules to be treated in the public nuisance type categories as drunkards, drug abusers, leaving large amounts of trash behind, engaging in irresponsible type living with no regard or respect for anyone or anything is a complete turnaround from the truth.
We have a Facebook page and our 3Mules.com website where the way we live is well documented. For anybody traveling in this country by horse, by foot or by bicycle going from one place to the next in transit exercising that most cherished right of personal freedom to be treated as we were in the City of San Clemente shows a blatant disregard for those who choose another means of transportation other than the dangerous and destructive automobile.
By Shirley Zindler, Animal Control Officer, Sonoma County Animal Services
As 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.
Last Saturday afternoon after delivering the Declaration of Emergency to Sebastopol City Hall and stopping at the Sebastopol Library to recharge phone and tablet, we were walking on the side of Gravenstein Highway South (116) heading towards Cotati when a Sonoma County Animal Control Officer stopped to talk to us.
Usually, anytime we are stopped by a police officer or an animal control officer (ACO), it is because a concerned citizen called police or animal dispatch to report the unusual sight of a man walking with three horses that look skinny, tired, and/or abused. The ACO usually approaches and asks the usual questions. We explain that Lady, 36, has walked with us for 31 years, and Little Girl, 26, has walked with us for 23 years, while Who-dee-doo, 11, has only been with us for four months. ACOs usually provide feedback that the kids are in excellent, lean and muscular condition than many of the horses that they see left alone in paddocks all their lives. After confirming that the mules are fine, ACOs wish us well and move on.
However, this past Saturday afternoon, the encounter we had with Sonoma County Animal Control Officer Shirley Zindler was different. She stopped to talk to us after receiving a report that there was a man walking three horses on the side of 116-S. She asked where we were going and we weren’t quite sure yet. She said that she lived a half mile down the road and had a fenced pasture and invited us to stay the night on her property. We accepted her kind offer and ended up staying two restful nights in her pasture. On Sunday, her friend Lisa brought a bale of alfalfa for the kids.
During the course of the weekend, we learned that Shirley started as an animal technician in 2001 for Sonoma County Animal Care and Control and decided to become an ACO when the other ACOs would return to the shelter with adventurous stories from the field. For the past 10 years, she has held the position as an ACO. On her personal time, she fosters dogs, cats, and wildlife at her Dogwood Animal Rescue Project.
Thank you Shirley for your hospitality to The Mules.