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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Mr. Chen Guan Ming

Chen Guan Ming on his tricycle

Awhile ago, I heard the story about a Chinese farmer named Chen Guan Ming who has been traveling the world since 2001 peddling a one speed, heavy tricycle loaded with his gear and pulling his rickshaw with a rope to get up mountains, visiting 23 countries and over 87,000 miles.  He sleeps outside in his rickshaw with his belongings and by news accounts has been redirected to remove himself from riding on a few public thoroughfares by police for safety. My interest in Mr. Chen grew greater when I heard that he had entered California. I wondered if our paths would cross. But before we get to that, here is some background about Mr. Chen.

The Olympic Rickshaw Rider cycling around the world 
In 2008 at age 53, Chen decided to ride his three-wheel rickshaw 497-miles from his village to the Olympics in Beijing. He rode around 1,700 cities in China to celebrate the Beijing Olympics and was dubbed the “Olympic madman.” Filled with the Olympic spirit, in May 2010, he decided to embark on a truly epic journey. A two-year rickshaw ride from eastern China to London, England, the host of the 2012 Olympics. His long and tortuous route took him through some of the world’s most troubled regions and difficult terrain including flooded Thailand,  the Himalayan foothills, war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan. But despite the condition, and being turned away from Singapore and Myanmar, he finally made it through 16 countries that also included Vietnam, Turkey, Italy, France, where he took a ferry to England and arrived in London in July 2012.

Because nobody knew he was coming, nobody in London welcomed Chen. And with no English to explain his rickshaw odyssey to the locals, it didn’t look like anyone would recognize Chen’s feat. One man, John Beeston, spotted Chen slumped over the handlebars of his rickshaw. Using his limited knowledge of Mandarin Chinese, Beeston discovered Chen’s amazing story and set out to tell the world. Only a few days later, Chen had spoken to BBC and CNN, been awarded a ticket to the opening ceremony of the London games, and been honored at a dinner held by the Chinese Olympic team. Energized by the that journey to the London Olympics, he set his mind to ride to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

In June 2013, he flew from London to Nova Scotia, traveled west across Canada, entering the United States in Washington in January 2015, riding through Oregon, and entered California in February.  After KRCR News found him traveling through Red Bluff and ran astorythe 3 Mules began receiving more messages from followers about Mr. Chen traveling through California and we were informed about his Facebook page with posts on his whereabouts.

Little Girl, Who Dee Doo and Lady

The Mules Close encounter with Mr. Chen
While Mr. Chen was in Northern California riding south to Los Angeles, and we (the Mules) turned around in San Diego to head back north, I kept tabs of his progress. I wondered when and where our paths would cross since we were both following Hwy 101 going in opposite directions. On March 21, I found out an hour after the fact that we were both in Santa Barbara riding/walking on the same road. However, the Mules missed seeing him by a mere 30-60 minutes as we had experienced a delay in our morning start. However, I still felt it was really cool that someone who I have been following and cheering virtually from afar was so close by, but we had no way to catch up to him at our 3mph speed.

The Mules in front of Orland City Hall

Out of the Who Dee Doo
Fast forward to July 6, 2015.  Woke up in the morning on the Sacramento River, packed up the Mules, and started walking on Hwy 32 going west towards Orland. We got to Orland around 2:30 and went to the city hall to deliver the Declaration of Emergency. We then walked through Orland to Hwy 99, where we decided to we would go south to Willows. Around 3:00, there was a nice green grassy spot along the side of the road for the mules to stop and eat.  As I was sitting on my water bucket letting the mules graze, a gentleman named Omar approached and introduced himself. He looked us up on 3Mules.com and appreciated what we were doing. We said thank you and then we had a conversation that lasted for awhile. He asked us if we liked peaches and said he would bring us back some peaches from his tree. When he came back, we continued our conversation.

Omar and Mr. Chen

During one part of our conversation, he started out by saying “There was a Chinese gentleman that came here with his bicycle…”

I immediately said “Mr. Chen!”

“That’s right!” said Omar.

He then took out his Smartphone and showed us a picture that he took of Mr. Chen near the same exact spot that we were currently sitting.

Thus, we think this is something that comes out of the Who Dee Doo. Because if we hadn’t decided to change course and stop in that same exact place at the time we did and wait awhile, we would never have met Omar, who met Mr. Chen, a person we have great interest following on his inspiring, epic world journey to “promote the Olympic spirit, hope for world peace, and protecting mother earth.”

This is the energy, magic and mystery of this place that we seem to encounter frequently along our journey and where we find ourselves in this point in our lives.

Omar with Lady and Little Girl (Who Dee Doo on other side of Lady)
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Livingston, California

On May 24, Ruben Chavez, police chief of Livingston, CA, e-mailed the Mules: “The mules are welcome to stay in Livingston for water, food, etc. We currently have two rescued horses we use for mounted patrol. We would love to have you stay with us. We also have charros who ride through town daily. We are equine friendly, so please call me if you have any questions.”

We responded to the email and called Chief Chavez and accepted his offer to stop and rest for a couple nights in Livingston.

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New mule added to the pack

For over a year, we’ve only been two mules (Lady and Little Girl) and the monk. Originally, Pepper, the third mule, traveled with us for 14 years, and did a very good job. Her tendon in one of her legs broke down and she was not able to do the job anymore. She had to be retired and currently lives as a pet on a property in Malibu with other horses and donkeys that she has for company. When Pepper retired, we were given another mule named Fred, who was injured and had to be put down. Thus for over a year, there has only been the three of us.

Who-dee-doo

This past weekend, we got a third mule in a magical, mystical sort of way after we were invited to spend a few days at the horse arena in Norco. While grazing up in the hills above the arena, it started to rain. Then all of a sudden, some ladies appeared coming up from down below asking a few questions and we gave them a few answers. Then they said, “Do you want a mule?” We said sure, even though we really didn’t. Moving and living in the Megatropolis with two mules is enough. Denise had originally bought the mule to be a riding mule, but found that he was a follower and didn’t like to lead. As well, the mule doesn’t have a left eye and only sees on his right side.

We considered the complexity in adding a third mule to the pack (need to find a place to stay, food, water, more horseshoes, and the new inter mule dynamics to name a few things). As well, we considered the dangers of the Megatropolis of having a mule blind on one side by not being able to see cars, light poles, and other obstacles. At 11 years old, the mule is strong, healthy and full grown. We thought that we’d give him a try and see what happens. We renamed the mule Who-dee-doo (original name was 9-to-5).

We take Who-dee-doo back to the corrals and start having second thoughts. Why are we taking a mule that has only one eye? It is hard enough to move through the Megatropolis with mules that have both eyes! Well, we got him now, so we better find out what he can do even though the negative voice within says no way will never be able to do the job.

Little Girl with Julie

While in Norco, Julie introduced herself to us and wanted to learn more about 3 Mules. During our stay, she got gasoline for our stove. As Who-dee-doo was being prepared for our next journey, Julie asked where we were going. We responded that we had to go to Thousand Oaks to get a saddle. Julie said that she had a saddle for us and brought it back with cinches, saddle blankets, straps, and a brand new proofer. Another gentleman approached us on his horse and joined the conversation. Asked if I needed anything. More horseshoes. He brought back horseshoes with nails. Unfortunately, I didn’t get his name or picture.

Tuesday morning, we left Norco on a bright sunny day filled with lots of energy acquired from the hospitality, kindness, and generosity of so many people, which we are very thankful. We met many people and we can’t remember everybody’s name to give them proper credit. We proceeded into the belly of the Megatropolis.

The Mules deliver the Declaration of Emergency to Riverside City Hall

We walked along the river before arriving in Riverside where Who-dee-doo clipped a telephone pole and scraped a fence. Since those two occurrences, Who-dee-doo has been moving around getting around as well as you could expect from any two-eyed mule. So how is this possible? We didn’t know. The Monk was setting up and Little Girl was grazing a vacant lot taking a break when all of a sudden Pepper and Fred, the two mules that are no longer with us, appeared in our minds’ eye together.

So there’s the answer as to why Who-dee-doo is moving around and getting around so well. Pepper and Fred have come from the energy to be Who-dee-doo’s blind side. So when you see this place of one human being and three mules (3mules.com) walking through your neighborhood, Who-dee-doo the one-eyed mule has brought a whole new dimension to 3mules.com.

The Mules

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