Today is Mule’s 71st birthday. He didn’t want any mention of it on this page, but his mules past and present dressed up for the occasion so had to share.
Last year in February 2016, the Mules left Santa Barbara and went up and over the Los Padres mountain range when our bladder stone made itself known. From that date until now, we haven’t done much traveling due to the discomfort and pain caused by the stone.
February to April 2016
It took us 12 days to cross the Los Padres Mountains. We made our way over the mountain, dropped into the San Emigdio Canyon and wound up at the Wind Wolves Preserve where we stayed for a number of weeks as we tried to figure out this growing discomfort. We worked on clearing the overgrown trail and making rock cairns on the trail in upper San Emigdio Canyon to mark the way to Pine Mountain Club. [Watch our video that we created of our Trail Work at Wind Wolves Preserve]
We were notified that oral arguments for our case, USA vs John Sears was scheduled before the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals on May 2, 2016 in Pasadena. So, we packed up and left Wind Wolves and walked 17 days to Pasadena to appear at our oral arguments in person at the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals. We lost our appeal but didn’t lose. The Energy acquired from the just effort put forth by 3 Mules and their pro bono lawyer Dan Kapelovitz will serve to the 3 Mule Nation and all who contribute to it in countless ways which cannot be foreseen. After our appeal, we then turned to migrate back north for the summer.
We traveled back over the Old Ridge Road, Lebec, Frazier Park, Pine Mountain Club, down San Emigdio Canyon to Wind Wolves Preserve where we rested a couple weeks to finish making the rock cairns in the upper canyon to mark the trail leading to Pine Mountain Club.
Before it heated up too much in the Central Valley, we needed to continue our migratory journey north where temperatures are cooler. We made our way through Bakersfield, stopped a couple of days, then proceeded through Shafter, McFarland, Delano, Porterville, Exeter, Ivanhoe, Dinuba, Reedley, and Sanger, delivering the Declaration of Emergency (DOE) to their city halls.
We stayed a couple weeks in Fresno to wait out an extreme heat wave where once again the Mules were guided by the free flowing energy that envelopes the Mules as they practice this ages old nomadic way of life, which to this day has outlasted every Megatropolis/Empire thats ever been going back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. During our stay in Fresno, the discomfort and pain intensified and we saw a doctor who diagnosed us with an enlarged prostate and prescribed a treatment to help shrink the prostate.
When the heat wave finally lifted, we packed up our belongings and moved with the energy. We had a goal to find the ranch where Lady was born and where we purchased her over 30 years ago. We walked through Friant and O’Neil and we were magically guided to Sam’s Organic Tomato Farm outside of Coarsegold. We enjoyed the hospitality we found at Sam’s for two months as we were dealing with this constant discomfort which was preventing continuous days of walking. Making the walk to Oakhurst for groceries and back to Coarsegold would deplete our energy for days.
In October, we needed to migrate south to warmer temps before cold hit the foothills of the Sierra. We were again brought to pack up our belongings, walked through Friant, Fresno, Selma, Kingsburg, Goshen, Tulare, Pixley, Delano, McFarland, Shafter, and Bakersfield, resting a couple days at Melinda and Eric’s stable, before winding back up at to Wind Wolves Preserve. From there we toyed with the possibility of continuing south to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl Parade. We decided to give it a try.
We went up through San Emigdio Canyon, got on top then went east to Frasier Park where we spent the night on the Public Thoroughfare (along the side of the highway), the right of anybody to do so when using said public thoroughfare to move from one place to the next when they choose how they choose.
Upon getting up that morning, I found Lady remaining down. We decided to tap the energy of the nation, the 3 Mule Nation, to materialize into what we needed. That energy brought forth very quickly people willing to give their energy to Lady the Mule, a true icon from the Natural World demonstrating in her most whimsical of ways the extreme value of that world, the Natural World.
After a short wait, we met Scott from the Granite Station. He offered to let Lady, Little Girl, myself stay at his ranch in Granite Station. So we did for two months and met Scott’s nice neighbors – Mario and his wife, and Bill across the street. The kids had a great time roaming the ranch, while I was trying to find a urologist in Bakersfield who would treat our prostate condition.
One day, the discomfort finally got to the point that we finally decided that we needed to go to Kern Medical Center Emergency Room, where we were treated by physician assistant Monica Sutter, who provided excellent service and listened as we described the discomfort and pain experienced for the past ten months. She referred us to a Kern Medical primary care doctor and a urologist, who we scheduled follow-up appointments.
Since Granite Station was a two day walk from Bakersfield, we had to get closer to town to be closer to our doctor appointments. The distances that we were able to walk had become quite short due to the severe pain. So, Lady, Little Girl and myself headed to Bakersfield. While in Bakersfield, Lady herself was having difficulty related to age and knew it was finally time for Lady to retire; our friend Sharon has provided Lady a wonderful home and care.
The energy of 3 Mules Nation brought us to Bakersfield Kern County and guided the Mules through and around Kern County Bakersfield until our year long medical adventure was culminated at Kern Medical Center where our urologist Dr. Vihn Trangdiagnosed us as having a bladder stone and created a treatment plan requiring outpatient surgery on March 16 to remove our golf-ball size bladder stone. While we were under anesthesia, he took a look at the prostate to determine if any further treatment was required, in which he determined that it was normal size and no further treatment required. Immediately after the surgery was over and the bladder stone removed, the discomfort and pain experienced for the past year went away.
The Mules would like to thank the doctors, nurses and all the hard-working folks giving their energy to making Kern Medical Center a good place to receive treatment. The Mules also want to once again thank the those who provide the Mules a place to stay as we were trying to resolve our medical issues. And we want to thank the people of the 3 Mule Nation for the kind words and well wishes that we received.
We are back on our feet and making our migratory journey north for the summer.
“When we think of those companions who traveled by our side down life’s road, let us not say with sadness that they left us behind, but rather say with gentle gratitude that they once were with us.” ~Author Unknown
This past Sunday while crossing a bridge, Babe stepped into a gap in the planks and broke her leg.
Babe was not with us long, but the energy that was Babe will be forever harbored in this place of one human being walking with his or her animal companions. That energy will re-materialize in the most magical of ways and be seen and experienced again and again.
Babe was a shining example of how the Mules live. The Mules live for the magic and beauty of the Natural World until they die from accident, natural causes or stealth. Babe was diagnosed and humanely euthanized by a veterinarian. Another service picked up her body.
Synopsis: On May 9, 2014, the Mules were arrested by the National Park Service and issued three citations for camping outside of designated area, violating order of a government agent, and conditions concerning use of pack animals in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
On July 16, 2014, the Mules attended an arraignment at the United States District Court in Los Angeles and pleaded not guilty and a trial date was set for November 6, 2014.
At the trial on November 6, 2014, the Mules were charged with 1) not obeying an order of a federal employee; and 2) camping in an undesignated area on national park land, while the third charge related to the pack animals was dropped. If found guilty on these charges, the maximum penalty for this petty offense was term of six months imprisonment, $5000 maximum fine, $10 special assessment for misdemeanor conviction, $25 processing fee payable to the Central Violations Bureau, and five year probation period. The Mules pleaded not guilty and were found guilty on both charges with no imposed penalties or fines, but were assessed a $35 court fee.
May 2, 2016: Oral Arguments. The Mules attended Oral Arguments before a three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court of Appeals Ninth District in Pasadena. The defense for the Mules and the government prosecution each had 15 minutes to provide their argument in front of a three-panel judge. Click to watch U.S. Court of Appeal Ninth Circuit Oral Argument court video recording:9th Circuit Court of Appeals video recording United States of America v. John C Sears 5/2/2016.
On June 15, 2016, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the magistrate judge’s finding that the Mules were guilty of violating two National Park Service regulations.
Click to read ruling 9th District Decision 6/15/2016:
To hear post-court discussion between John Sears and pro bono attorney Dan Kapelovitz, click here: https://youtu.be/eNIc2_TjcME
Statement from the Mules in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision:
On May 2, 2016, the Mules appeared at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena to hear our appeal before three judges brought forth by the Megatropolis to decide whether the Mules or anybody else, hiker, bicycle or somebody traveling in a wheelchair, in this continental United States has the right to use public space to stop and rest for the night.
The National Parks are without question public space. They belong to all of us and they must be open to all who seek use of them in ways which conform to the mission of bringing people into the Natural World with reverence and respect.
The Mules and the way of life they live are a stellar example of that mission. When the Megatropolis uses its courts and judges to deny the Mules that most necessary function of life (rest) on a National Park, its subverts the mission of the Natural Parks – bringing people and the Natural World together in a natural way as opposed to the Megatropolis way (man-made world way) arriving in an air-conditioned bus with all the comforts of home.
The Mules on this day, September 13, 2016, have declared themselves to be the official mascots of the Natural Park system. One human being wandering in one of all four directions with his or her animal companions with reverence and respect for this totally unique sparkling jewel in the universe – our home EARTH.
Hence, the Mules, in the process of performing their duty as the official mascots of the Natural Parks, will bring clarity, direction and purpose to administering the mission of the National Parks. Rather then continuing down the slippery slope of the commercialism which is destroying the National Parks.
2/3/2015 Trial transcript:
2/6/2015 Appellant Opening Brief. Mule’s legal representative Daniel Kapelovitz has submitted an appeal to the United States District Court, which has ten days to respond.
2/19/2015 Governments Answering Brief. The government sent back their response to the Appellant Opening Brief.
3/2/2015 Reply Brief. Mule’s legal representative Daniel Kapelovitz has submitted the Reply Brief to the Government’s Answering Brief
Outcome: The Judge stood by the initial ruling and rejected the appeal.
5/2/2016 U.S. Court of Appeal Ninth Circuit Oral Argument court video recording
6/15/2016: 9th District Decision
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance so said somebody…can’t remember who, it’s been quoted by many. The Mules are a venue of that vigilance providing a real live moving scene of eternal vigilance by which anybody at anytime can open the window and watch the Mules moving freely when they choose , how they choose across this country and across this earth.
You take a pause in your busy day, look through the window, you see the Mules there moving freely and unhindered. They’re strong, healthy and well. Now you know your personal freedom and your children’s future is still here.
You look through the window and you see the Mules limping then you know you must jump through that window and give your strength and support so the Mules can continue their journey which is to protect and preserve their freedom as well as yours.
In these complicated and troubled times, the Megatropolis is taking full advantage. Our case in Pasadena at the United States Court of Appeals is a perfect example. The National Park Service arrested the Mules for stopping to rest – one of the most necessary functions to sustain life.
The Megatropolis must come to understand it cannot meddle or tread on the Mules or anybody else’s basic functions of sleeping, eating, walking, etc. that are necessary to living. For allow it to do so will certainly be the end of freedom.
The Mules demonstrating the down to the bone nomadic way of life. Able to erect shelter in a moments notice, take it down the same. Leaving a place the way it was when they arrived. Using their energy to live in harmony and respect with nature not in confrontation with nature. The Mules demonstrating this most valued and respected way to live on this earth to one and all as they walk down the city street right under your kitchen window to see, feel, experience the absolute necessity to yourself and the future of your children for a strong healthy Natural World.
The Mules are calling forth a thousand Monks walking with their animal companions all over this country for thousand of years or until the Buffalos return breaking over the horizon like water breaking through a dam, restoring the health of the Natural World and all who reside within.
The Vision will grow in scope and size it comes through the door of infinity it knows no limits.
On January 29 4:30pm after walking approximately 16-miles west on Casitas Pass Road (Hwy 150) from Ojai heading towards Carpinteria as we were looking for a place to stop for the night, a gentleman pulled up in his vehicle and asked if we needed a place to rest for the night. We said that we did. He said that we would be welcome on his property a short distance away where he had mules and horses. We gladly accepted and spent three nights, waiting out the rain storm. The kids got a nice rest. On Monday morning, we got up early and proceeded northwest on Hwy 150 to Santa Barbara. Lady, Little Girl, Babe and I say thank you to Bradley and his wife Emily for kindly allowing us to stay on their nice, quiet ranch with their mules and horses.
While our January 13th blog post told about our two separate police encounters in Simi Valley in Ventura County, this blog post will cover the varied greetings that we received from city, county and state employees and officers as we traveled through the Ventura County cities of Camarillo, Ventura and Ojai.
City of Camarillo
On January 21, 2016, we arrived in Camarillo. The City of Camarillo’s city emblem on all the street signs throughout the city and on the sign in front of city hall is of a man on a horse –the city’s namesake, Adolfo Camarillo, on his Camarillo White Horse that his family bred from the 1920s through the 1980s.
We first stopped by the City of Camarillo Library to charge our phone. As we were sitting outside the library, the librarian came out, introduced herself and presented me with this t-shirt and book “Farm City” by Novella Carpenter on inner city farming, which I find very interesting and appreciate the kindness of the librarian to give the Mules these gifts.
From the library, we proceeded to walk to Camarillo City Hall to deliver the Declaration of Emergency during which time we had two police contacts. During the first police contact, two plain clothes officers pulled up in an unmarked car, got out and wanted to know who we were, what we were doing and wanted to see our identification and wanted to know if we were offering services. We said no we don’t offer services nor do we ask for donations. They continued to ask us inquisitive type question. They were pleasant enough and went on their way.
It wasn’t too long afterwards that two police marked cars stopped us and basically wanted to know the same stuff and wanted to see our ID. It was a forced stop. We weren’t breaking any laws but the officer decided that we were illegally passing through the city of Camarillo.
We were not illegally passing through the city of Camarillo. We have the legal right the same as any automobile, the same as any bicyclist, and the same as any pedestrian to walk freely through the city of Camarillo. So, we weren’t breaking any laws but we were treated as we were. We were stopped forcibly by the police officer. He called it in and found out that we had the right and released us. He went his way and we went our way to Camarillo City Hall and were greeted kindly by Camarillo City Hall staff who came out to take pictures with the mules and ask questions to learn more about our ages old nomadic way of life.
After we left city hall, we found a big vacant area on that same road to rest for the night. In the middle of the night Camarillo Police car stopped to look at us but the officer continued driving. We got up in the morning and left the area clean as we always do and did not leave behind anything.
Ventura County Animal Services
While we were passing through Simi Valley and Camarillo, we stopped by Ventura County Animal Services building in both these towns and asked permission to fill our bucket with water for the kids. The nice staff and volunteers at the shelter greeted the mules and let us have some water to drink.
San Buenaventura State Beach, Ventura
On Sunday January 24 in the evening, we arrived in Ventura by San Buenaventura State Park just a little before dark. We had stopped here a couple times in the past to rest, so we decided that we would do so once again. We didn’t go inside the confines of the park. We were outside the fence in a large grassy area between the street and the fence. We stayed here. I picketed the mules out, fixed my dinner and went to sleep.
I got up in the morning and was packing up to leave. A park ranger drove up in his truck and informed me that I was illegally camping in a state park. He said I would have to leave immediately. I said I was in the process of packing up to leave. He said that if I didn’t leave immediately or if I ever showed up again, I would be subject to arrest and the animals would be impounded. I packed up and left.
Ventura River Trail, Ventura
From San Buenaventura State park, we followed the Ventura Promenade to the Ventura River Trail going from Ventura to Ojai that parallels the Ojai River.
We walked for about 6 miles on the trail and found a good place to graze. It was a brushy vacant area that had no signs forbidding trespassing and had no fences or locked gates. It was a matter of stepping off the trail and walking back into the brush. We decided this place was also a good place to rest for the night.
Upon getting up in the morning the mules were happily grazing. I decided to do some shoeing. By the time I was through putting new horseshoes on the mules, it was around 11 to 11:30am. I took the mules out towards the freeway to let them graze in a grassy area. We were up there for about an hour grazing when we were approached by a gentleman in a white construction hat. He asked if he could take our picture, we said sure and we exchanged a few pleasantries and that was the end of it. The mules continued to graze and we were there for another half hour.
I decided to go back to camp and pack up and leave. As I was in the process of rolling up my horseshoe tools and putting them away in the pack boxes, two Ventura county sheriffs showed up with the gentleman in the white construction hat. The officers informed me that I was trespassing and I would have to leave. I was in the process of leaving so that was no problem.
I mentioned the fact that there were no signs or fencing so I could not be trespassing and I could not be arrested for that because there was no notification that I was trespassing. The sheriffs said, “We are giving you notification now and you have to leave.” I said fine. They hung around until I got all packed up. They were there for over an hour. When I finally got packed up and left, they left.
City of Ojai
We proceeded following the Ojai Valley Trail to Ojai and walked for about 6 miles when we found another good place off the trail to graze. We decided to stopped here for the night so that the kids could continue grazing. The next morning, we packed up and followed the Ojai Valley Trail to Ojai City Hall and delivered the Declaration of Emergency. We have had no police contact in Ojai.
While we were in Ojai, we met Molly who later put up a Facebook posts that nicely describes who we are and what we are trying to accomplish as we walk and live outside all day every day.
“Mule has been living outside with his mules for 31 years. Just walking. He’s dedicated to trying to convince people that when we destroy nature, take up all the wilderness space with buildings and concrete and no room to roam freely, we’re destroying ourselves and our true nature. He’s trying to affect a change by encouraging the “People in Charge” to link the outdoor spaces, parklands, etc., so a horse, a mule, a bike, a walker – can pass through continuously without breaking a law. He’s also trying to have those same ones in charge consider making it possible for a traveler like him to spend one night legally in outdoor space.”
Thank you Rene for inviting the Mules to rest in your orchard for the night and providing the kids hay and water.
On Tuesday, January 12, 2016, while walking down the street going through Simi Valley, we encountered a couple of Simi Valley Police officers who stopped to talk to us. We had a friendly conversation. They wanted to know about our journey and we told them and we proceeded on our way through Simi Valley.
As it was getting dark, we found this location to stop to rest for the evening about 50 feet away from the the railroad tracks. I picketed the mules onto a fence.
Around 6:30am this morning I got up, checked the mules, then started fixing my breakfast when Simi Valley Police appeared and informed me that they received a phone call that there were loose horses along the railroad tracks. Of course, they saw that this was not true. The mules were not loose and secured on picket lines. The officers informed me that I was on railroad property and trespassing and I had to leave.
The officer were nice about it and asked when we would be leaving. I told them that I was in the process of leaving as soon as I finished eating my breakfast in about an hour or so. We fully intended to leave and be on our way. They said fine.
As they were leaving, one officer informed us that we could not trespass on railroad property and if we ever returned here again, they would have to arrest me and impound my mules. They said that they were notifying me of that so hopefully that would not happen. I said it wouldn’t.
Before they left, I said that being the case, there is really no place in Simi Valley to stop and rest for the night. Because of that, the next time I come through Simi Valley we’ll have to use public space, county, city, state parks to to exercise our right to stop and rest for the night. They didn’t say anything and that was the end of the conversation.
This is a perfect example of how all space in this country is being taken away. You have to have access to public space to exercise your freedom to move freely in this country. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any freedom. You can’t have one without the other. To walk freely and to move freely in this country when the end of the day comes, one has to be able to stop and rest. And if there is no space for that, you in effect have no freedom at all.
This kind of occurrence is constantly happening to us. Public space must be available to stop and rest for the night. We’re not talking about staying and putting up a tent and staying for long periods of time day in and day out. We’re only talking about a stop for the night, resting, and continuing on our way.