Rendezvous with Lady

The Mules traveled from the south to rendezvous with Lady in Auburn where she is now living and being very well cared for by Jane.

We slept under three apple trees in which Little Girl and Little Ethel enjoyed the fallen fruit each day. The fresh winter squash from Jane’s garden was also delicious.

While we were here, Little Ethel and Little Girl got a new pair of shoes. Thank you Candice, a long time supporter of the 3 Mules journey and her farrier Greg White for shoeing the kids.

Like the geese, the Mules now turn to the south and head for San Diego. And while Lady no longer travels with the Mules physically, she will be with us spiritually as we continue our journey south.

The Mules

Lady watching us leave as we continue our endless journey south.
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Ventana Wilderness – Rancho Salsipuedes

UPDATE 9/19/2020: In 2015 the Mules were traveling through Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County where we had the pleasure of staying at Rancho Salsipuedes owned by Timothy Bottoms. We enjoyed our stay at the Rancho and learning of its unique history, which is documented in our original blog post below.

Rancho Salsipuedes is a rare place. About 12 miles inland in Big Sur, it is one of the LAST standing California Homesteads that is not owned by the government or by a corporation. It has been in the hands of The Bottoms family since 1975. It has been untouched by overdevelopment, remaining in all of its glory. It has been looked after with true, pure, authentic love for the natural world. 

Dolan Fire Map
Dolan Fire Perimeter, Monterey County, September 2020

We have come to find out about the Dolan wildfire that started August 18, 2020 and one month later continues to burn with only 46% perimeter containment. This wildfire ravaged thru and over the Rancho Salsipuedes, which we are very sorry to hear about.

In 2015, We left our palomino mule, Who Dee Doo, at Rancho Salsipuedes and glad to see in the photo below that he made it through the fire okay.

The Bottom’s family friend, Caitlin Ackerman, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the remaining horses and rebuild Rancho Salsipuedes. Please click on this link to read more about this special place and donate if you can. Warning, there are graphic images of the animals domestic and wildlife that didn’t survive.

Here is our original blog post that we wrote October 20, 2015:

October 20, 2015 – 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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Mayfield Equine Services

Jerrod Mayfield of Mayfield Equine Services has shoed the Mules in the Bakersfield area many times. Once again, Jerrod gave his energy and skill to the 3 Mules endless journey.

A journey showing respect and reverence for earth our home and all its inhabitants. A journey using the energy of this ages old sacred relationship between human being and horse showing all those who the 3 Mules pass the extreme value of a spiritual connection to the natural world and the web of life which nourishes us all.

The Mules

Mayfield Equine Services trailer
Little Ethel getting shod
Jerrod Mayfield, Little Ethel and Mule
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December Rains

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

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

Follow our travels in the Mule Tracker.

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

Makeshift bed to stay off the wet ground.

Makeshift bed to stay off the wet ground.
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Little Girl

The veterinarian came out today to look at Little Girl. She has cellulitis. Maybe it’s time to retire her. We’ll wait and see.

In the meantime, the Mules are searching to purchase two 15.3 – 16 hand stout draft mules, 3 to 18 years of age. Must be easy to shoe and healthy. We don’t want white as it makes the mules too easy to spot at night for thieves and others with less than a legitimate intentions. If you have a mule for sale that fits this description, please private message photos, location, price and your contact information. Would like to see photos of teeth and video of back feet being picked up.

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Daylight Saving – Fall Back

Clocks fall back one hour on Sunday. Daylight saving time became a national standard in 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, which was established as a way to continue to conserve energy. The thinking was if it’s light out longer, that’s less time you’ll need to use the lights in your house.

Living outside all day every day, the Mules naturally wake up at dawn’s first light. In the late afternoon, we begin to look for a good place to stop to rest before nightfall. Thus, the Mules aren’t too affected by DST change. However, we do wear a watch to keep track of time when cooking with the pressure cooker and if we have a scheduled appointment.

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The importance of being outside in the Natural World

Last Spring, when the Mules were making their way through Palm Springs, a comment was made on one of our posts that the Mules were making bad choices. “Bad choices” is social worker speak for alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.

In none of these activities or addictions do the Mules engage. Instead, we practice the sacred act of walking and the spiritual engagement with creation the Natural World. This is not a bad choice. It is a wonderful choice. A choice created and made available to all from a Trump down to a weak little man and everybody somewhere in between.

The Mules read a Sierra Sun article titled “For body and mind: Neuroscientists ties brain health to outdoors life.” The article was about a neuroscientist’s research that being (living outside) was healthy for the brain. Well, duh!!!! The Mules have known that since the time of birth. That knowledge is imbedded in our bones.

This is why it is so important that the right to travel on and across this country using a multi-use public thoroughfare, open to all its citizens, be protected by all with extreme vigilance.

The Mules


Excerpts from Sierra Sun article:

Outdoor activity is often associated with physical well-being.

Being in the natural world also plays a vital role in mental health, according to Dr. Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco and a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research for nearly five decades.

When people are engaged in activities like hiking, Merzenich says, the brain is getting its own exercise, constantly assessing and reassessing the environment for everything from threats to making minute adjustments along an uneven hiking trail.

In the natural world, Merzenich said novel things and surprises trigger this super-charged state, but as people have built cities and more recently, turned their attention to digital devices, they are no longer getting the benefits of being engaged with their environment.

“Our brain is deprived a massive level of exercise by living in an artificial world. We’ve adjusted our local environment so that everything is predictable, we don’t have to think about anything,” said Merzenich.

“Common city life, you only see things in front of your nose and you no longer see things out in the world … you became very, very inadequate at detecting anything that’s surprising or novel. That’s really what we’re designed to do. That’s what our brains are designed to do, we’re designed to be masters of our physical environment, to be looking for the surprises in it that don’t fit, to be evaluating what they mean and what their value is to us. The natural world is just about the best possible way to find all of those surprises.”

With the emergence of mobile devices, Merzenich said the effects are worsening, especially for children.

“There’s no question that the brain of the average little kid right now is vastly different from the brain of a kid even 20 years ago, because the brain basically is plastic, and it changes itself as a function of how it’s engaged,” said Merzenich. “What the child is engaging in is a lot of rule-based behavior, working in activities that are largely rule-based. The kid is doing things that they enjoy and are not valueless, but they’re not the real world, and increasingly we take a sort of artificial approach to life. We don’t problem solve so much as we look up answers to things. We’re changing the way our brains are exercised and that’s changing us.”
By being deprived of the unpredictability and novelty of natural settings, according to Merzenich, people begin to suffer from disorders such as depression and anxiety.

“Human survival was dependent on being an accurate, fast interpreter of the meanings of things,” he said. “Another way of putting that is, that it’s an important form of exercise. If I degrade that machinery, I go into clinical depression. If I enliven that machinery, I have a life that’s vital and bright. There’s real value in exercising the brain.”

In order to employ this mental form of exercise, Merzenich’s advice is simply to get outside and be engaged in one’s surroundings, whether it is at a park, on a hiking path or at the beach.

“I tell people try to be a little bit more like a child again,” he said.

“There’s nothing quite so wonderful as being out on a forest path or being some place where everywhere you look there’s something really interesting — if you’re just open to it.”

Sierra Sun, August 16, 2019
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Little Ethel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad post for Little Ethel
Ad post for Little Ethel

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

Coggins Test Results
Coggins Test Results for Little Ethel

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

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

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

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

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

Little Girl training Little Ethel
Little Girl training Little Ethel

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

The Mules

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

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


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First night away from Little Girl

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

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

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

Where we slept last night in Palmdale

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Norco – HorseTown USA

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

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

Little Girl sleeping
Little Girl taking a nap

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency Stopping Only sign

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

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

The Mules

We we stopped to rest for the night
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