Ventana Wilderness – 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

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.

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Gonzales, California

The Mules stayed in the city of Gonzales last night. Got up this morning and fixed breakfast. While packing up the Mules, a number of residents came by and welcomed us to their town. We then delivered the DOE and MCL to the Gonzales City Hall.

Thank you to the town of Gonzales for making the Mules’ walk through your town a pleasant one.

The Mules

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Salinas, California

On Monday September 14, the Mules arrived in Salinas, California. We spent most of our time in the northern portion of the city at El Gabilan Library on Main Street to charge our electronics and catch up on things.

A few days prior to arriving in Salinas, I received a message from Diana Kunz, who stated that she worked at Alisal High School and asked if the Mules would consider meeting her students while in Salinas. We said yes. She said that she would double check with the main teacher. On Monday afternoon, Ms. Kunz met up with the Mules at the El Gabilan Library and we agreed that the Mules would be at Central Park the next day at 11am to meet her class.

This morning, we got up from our spot that we spent the night in Salinas, stopped by Salinas City Hall to deliver the Declaration of Emergency and then proceeded to Central Park less than a mile away. The Mules enjoyed meeting Ms. Terry Johnson and Ms. Kunz’s Alisal High School students and answering their questions. My three kids behaved themselves and seemed to enjoy the attention given to them by the class.

This is the second time the Mules have been invited to speak with a school and we enjoyed having the opportunity to share our ages old way of life. The first time was with Anacapa School in Santa Barbara back in March 2015. Thank you Ms. Kunz for reaching out to us.

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Las Lomas, California

Little Girl in front of Watsonville City Hall

After delivering the DOE to Watsonville City Hall and spending a couple hours at the public library to charge our electronics, we left downtown Watsonville around 4:30 pm yesterday. We got to Highway G12 going south towards Salinas grazing along the road when Lucy and Santiago stopped and asked us, “Where are you going?”

We responded, “Everywhere.”

“But where?”

“San Diego.”

They wanted to know where we were going to spend the night. We didn’t know. Lucy said that we could stay at their ranch in Las Lomas, and we accepted their invitation.

Thank you Lucy and Santiago for your kindness and support that you’ve shown this place of one human being walking/riding with his or her animal companions through the endless magic and mystery of time and space.

The Mules

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Santa Cruz, California

The 3 Mules want to thank the members of the Santa Cruz County Horseman’s Association’s members for your kindness in providing a place for us to stay for three nights at your showgrounds, which allowed us to catch up on our most necessary tasks of horseshoeing, fixing gear, refueling and resting for our long journey south. Special thanks to Mary Sullivan-White for all you did for us these past few days and for taking and sending us these photos in this album. Words cannot express our gratitude to the Santa Cruz County Horsemen. As well, thank you to farrier Erik Dahlstrom for your services and Debra Kuettel of General Feed for providing supplies.

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Woodside, California

Redwood City City Hall

On Sunday morning, the Mules delivered the Declaration of Emergency to Redwood City City Hall. I then pondered as to what direction we should go.  Continue south on El Camino Real or go west to Santa Cruz where I’ve never been before with the mules?   We received quite a few Facebook messages that horses are part of the local culture of the town of Woodside where residents keep horses, and the town government maintains a network of horse trails. So, the Mules decided to visit Woodside.

When we were in San Francisco walking along Fisherman’s Wharf, the Mules met Jamis, who said that if we should ever decide to go through Woodside to stop by his restaurant Buck’s and we would be welcome.

Woodside City Hall

As things went, the Mules decided to go through Woodside where we also delivered the DOE and MCL to Woodside City Hall. While climbing up Woodside Road, Tanya, who we met the night before in San Carlos, had brought the kids some hay. We told her that we were going to Buck’s restaurant and she said that she’ll leave it there.

The Mules with Jamis, owner of Buck’s restaurant in Woodside, California

Upon getting to Buck’s, I tied the kids to the hitching posts set-up in the shade next to the restaurant, removed their packs, gave them the hay, sat on my bucket, and waited for that promised meal. The manager George came out and asked us what we would like. A bowl of soup and bread came to our minds. We were brought Red potato soup and sourdough bread, which was great.

Lady with Buck’s manager George and Jim

Jamis’s friend Jim came by and asked us where we were going to spend the night. We didn’t know. He said we could stay at the Horse Park at Woodside, so we have been. Jim brought us hay and good drinking water.

Thank you to all the nice people of Woodside and beyond for supporting this ages old place of one human being riding/walking with his or her animal companions, moving through the mystery and magic of time and space on its endless journey upon this beautiful place we call Earth.

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San Mateo County

Thanks for everyone using the #3Mules or @3Mules hashtag on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts so that The Mules can be aware of the photos taken of us. The other day, we noticed that the Twitter posts of City of San Mateo and Foster City Police used the hashtag #NomadicLife with our photos. We thought that hashtag was cool too, as it shows that the the cities of San Mateo and Foster City understand what The Mules are about. So thanks and continue using #3Mules and #NomadicLife or @3Mules so we can find and share your photos.

As part of a glimpse into our nomadic life…

As previously stated in other posts, I lived my early childhood years in Marin. My later childhood years were spent living in the Palo Alto area when it was still mainly undeveloped, open space or orchards. Thus, I am really familiar with this area along the El Camino Real, but sometimes it is hard to recognize this place now with all the new buildings.

While in San Mateo, the Mules met this gentleman also named John, and we started talking. As the conversation further progressed, we discovered that we both attended the same middle school and high school in Palo Alto in the 1960’s. We had the same teachers but were a couple years apart in class. We both have younger sisters the same age. John phoned his sister and asked if she recognized my sister’s name. Immediately she responded that they were in the same class in junior high and high school. This encounter is something we would describe as coming out of the who-dee-doo. Surreal. This is the first time that I ever met a stranger on the road that went to the same middle and high school as I did.

Yesterday, we accidentally left our backpack at the Belmont City Hall entrance while delivering the Declaration of Emergency (DOE). Upon discovering this after we were about 2 miles away, we called the Belmont Police Department to let them know, and they kindly retrieved it for us. Thank you Belmont Police Department.

We then continued south on El Camino Real and delivered the DOE to San Carlos City Hall.

Grazing in the Megatropolis

The kids were getting hungry, so we took a side street and explored the range. We found this place knocked on the door and asked if we could graze. The gentleman said yes. We said thank you. We were there about two hours. The kids had a nice dinner.

Where we stopped to rest for the night

We then got back on El Camino Real and looked for a place to rest for the night. We came upon Sequoia High School. The gate was open and we squeezed through and went to sleep. Thank you Sequoia High.

We are on our way to Redwood City and the surrounding towns before heading to Woodside and on our way to Santa Cruz.

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The Mules crossed the Golden Gate Bridge

Little Girl, Lady and Who Dee Doo at the Golden Gate Bridge

Late morning on Tuesday, August 25, the Mules began the walk from the hills above Sausalito where we have been staying for the past week to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point on north end.

I tied the mules up to the chain linked fence at Vista Point in a place out of the way from people and traffic. I informed Golden Gate Bridge police officers that I was going to walk across the bridge to deliver my letters to the Administrative Office and then come back to pick up the mules.

For those reading this who have never visited the Golden Gate Bridge, here is a photo that I took of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 10-foot wide sidewalk with railings on both sides. I walked on the bridge sidewalk from Sausalito north end to San Francisco south end of the bridge.

While it is crowded with pedestrians and cyclists during daylight hours, the Mules still feel that our request was not unreasonable to the Bridge Manager for permission for the Mules to walk across this sidewalk at 2AM when the sidewalk has no pedestrians, little cyclists and least automobile traffic on the road.

I dropped off the letters to the assistant clerk of the Bridge Board to deliver to the Bridge Manager and the Bridge Board of Directors.

As I left the Administrative offices and started my walk back to Marin, Bridge Authority approached me and informed me that they had contacted the Marin Humane Society to bring a trailer to Vista Point North Side to help the Mules cross the bridge. When I arrived at the north end, an animal control officer was waiting for me and I helped load Lady, Little Girl and Who-dee-doo into the trailer, where we were dropped off at Crissy Field in San Francisco. The Marin Humane Society officer gave me her phone number and said that if any officers in San Francisco gave us trouble to have them call her.

Thank you to all those who showed support in our stance by sharing our posts and sending your emails. Bridge Authority finally took responsibility to provide an alternative solution in lieu of the mules walking on the sidewalk by contacting the Marin County Animal Services in which they have a contract to handle any situations concerning animals. This was a different answer than what we were provided two weeks ago when we first contacted the Bridge District about crossing the bridge.

The Mules still stand on what we wrote in the letter and urge the Bridge Board of Directors to revisit the policy on animals. We feel that this is a positive step and the initial blueprint has been drafted. Final blueprint will be when mules can finally walk across the bridge.

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On a sidenote, the Mules would like to thank Rob from Sausalito who invited us to stay on his property in the hills of Sausalito for the past week. This gave the Mules time to rest, contemplate and write our follow-up letter to the Bridge Manager and Bridge Board of Directors. The Mules would also like to thank the Marin City Public Library for having computers and printers for public use so that we could print the documents. Here is a photo of Rob. We hiked from his property along the ridge to an overlook with spectacular San Francisco Bay views.

Rob with the Who Dee Doo, Lady and Little Girl. San Francisco Bay and Angel Island in background.
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Hunt & Behrens Grain Factory (Petaluma)

This past week, when we were coming down Petaluma Boulevard into Petaluma, the kids were grazing in a vacant lot. The manager of the nearby Hunt & Behrens grain factory introduced himself. He said that he has followed our journey extensively for the past two years.

He reminded us that in 2013 as we were passing through Petaluma, he invited us to stay in the empty field behind the grain factory and he had also provided us a bucket of water and grain.

So after he saw us on Tuesday, he invited us to stay the night in the empty lot behind the grain factory again. We accepted his invitation. The kids got grain, alfalfa and water from the factory along with good rest and grazing in the field.

This gentleman does not want to be recognized publicly by name or photograph. The Mules do want to let him know that we do appreciate what he has done for us back in 2013 and now 2015. Thank you.

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The Mules Encounter with Sonoma Animal Control Officer

Lady with ACO Shirley Zindler

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.

ACO Officer Shirley Zindler with Lady, Little Girl and Who Dee Doo
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