Palm Springs, California – Part II

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.

We were outside the fenced perimeter of the airport in the large field.

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.
 
The Mules

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Palm Springs, California

This is where we slept yesterday night outside of Palm Springs. I packed up Little Girl and we left our camp about 8 making our way to Highway 111 heading for Indio. After walking for a couple of hours, we came upon a Starbucks. I decided to stop there and charge my phone.

I tied Little Girl to a tree in the parking lot about hundred and fifty feet away from the entrance to Starbucks. I went into Starbucks, sat down, plugged in my phone and waited for phone to charge. I was able to look through the front door of Starbucks and see Little Girl.

After about half an hour of sitting in Starbucks, two police officers entered through the door approached me and said they wanted me to go outside and talk to them. I said I’m not going anywhere to talk to anybody. I’m busy. They turned and went back outside. I could see there were people gathering around Little Girl. It’s a common occurrence. She attracts attention.

Apparently one of those people or all of those people called the police claiming Little Girl was tied for over 2 hours in the hot sun without water. She was not tied in the direct sun. She was tied under a tree. She was without water because she didn’t need any. I had watered her in the morning before we started walking. I was in Starbucks for no more than 1 hour. It takes about an hour to charge my phone and that is the maximum time I spend away from Little Girl.

I have been walking the state of California for over 5 years with Little Girl. Animal control and the police are called. It’s a common occurrence whenever I tie Little Girl to a tree, lamppost, or fence, go into a grocery store, hardware store, a library, or a Starbucks. I’ve never been charged or arrested for animal abuse, neglect of Little Girl or any such thing. Little Girl has never suffered from lack of water or lack of food or lack of care. Calling the police or animal control or both will not result in my arrest it will only be a misuse of police resources and time.

I am 70 years old. Little Girl is 28 years old. We can easily travel 15 miles a day in hundred plus degree heat and love every minute of it.

People who live inside air conditioned vehicles, going from one air-conditioned building to the next are in no way capable of placing any judgment on us and the way we live. Our ages-old nomadic way of life is tried-and-true. It’s stellar. Calling police, animal control or both will never stop the Mules or their nomadic way of life. It’s our constitutional right the Supreme law of the land to be who we are and what we are, and we will exercise that right relentlessly.

The gentlemen in the photo below use their courage and weapons to fight for the freedom, which we the Mules enjoy. The Mules have a different scheme. We don’t use weapons. We use our energy to live free and be free one step at a time all day everyday until we die by accident, stealth or natural causes. Its a scheme that has served us well throughout the ages.

The Mules

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Cabazon to Palm Springs

Yesterday morning we had some oatmeal for breakfast then left Cabazon where we spent the night, walked awhile, then met a dinosaur running loose on the bashed and unashamed, defying the control state like us. We enjoyed each other’s company, trading stories and experiences.

After leaving the dinosaurs, we came across this person we thought they should take a lesson from us in efficiency and practicality. All you need is a sleeping bag, some water, extra pair of shoes, a little food. How in the world anybody wants to haul around all this stuff is beyond us. We said farewell and wished them luck. Whoever they were they got a lot to learn.

As we walked along the railroad tracks and through the desert we found freshwater coming from Big Bear. We then stopped under a bridge and caught some shade and rest. There is plenty of good grass out in this desert for Little Girl to eat.

Towards the end of our day, we met Tarra. She was on her way back home and stopped to visit us. We had a nice conversation and enjoyed each other’s company.

We then walked a couple of miles to the outskirts of Palm Springs and settled for the night. 17-miles walked from Cabazon to Palm Springs.

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Temecula, California

The Mules spent Wednesday night on the outskirts of Temecula on the top of the pass. On Thursday morning (April 12th), we got up ate oatmeal, packed Little Girl, headed in to Temecula, crossed the river and secured Little Girl in the parking lot outside Starbucks. An animal control officer arrived, came into Starbucks and told me they received a call about Little Girl, but it was okay and then left. Shortly thereafter, I also left Starbucks and headed for WinCo Foods (5 miles away) to buy groceries.

We were across the street from WinCo at the stop light when two Temecula police officers stopped, got out of their car. The female officer started to question me…. “Where are you going? Where are you from?” I told her that I did not have to answer her questions and I wasn’t going to. Then she started messing with Little Girl by trying to touch Little Girl’s head and face. Little Girl didn’t like the officer reaching for her face and was annoyed by the officer’s actions. I asked the officer to stop. The officer didn’t want to stop and continued to irritate Little Girl. I told the officer if she didn’t stop, the Mules would arrest her and take her to jail.

Then the other officer started asking me similar questions…”Where are you going? What are you doing?” I told him that we are waiting for the signal light to change so that we can go to WinCo, and that’s what we did when the light changed.

We got to the WinCo parking lot, secured Little Girl to a tree, went into WinCo, bought groceries, came back out, unpacked Little Girl. We stayed there 45 minutes to eat our lunch and take a short break from walking. As we were packing up, another Temecula police officer drove up and started asking the same questions as the prior two Temecula officers…”Where are you going? Where are you from? What are you doing walking around Temecula?”

I responded, “I am not going to talk to you.” I said that the Mules have the right to walk around Temecula and have the same right as he does or anyone else. He said he was not so sure we could walk around Temecula with a horse. I responded I was sure that the Mules could without question. I requested him to go away and leave us alone. The officer wouldn’t leave. We told him if he didn’t leave us alone, the Mules would arrest him and take him to jail.

I continued to pack up Little Girl when two Riverside County sheriff officers showed up. Once again, they started asking me the same questions. I gave them the same answers. The previous officer went over to talk to them and then they all left. Shortly after, we left as well.

In this country, the United States of America, the Mules have the same right to walk around town peacefully going about our business whether to the supermarket to buy food, the hardware store to buy supplies, the doctor or dentist for medical care, the post office to send and receive mail, the gas station to buy gas, or a shady tree to eat our lunch and listen to the birds sing. There is no reason for police to constantly ask us where we’re going, where we are from, what we are doing.

I asked the officers why they were here. They said that they got a call. We asked who called and they responded that they didn’t know. The police are letting trolls dictate their policy and/or using the guise of “a call” to stop and question us. Anonymous people are calling and stating things that aren’t true and making unsubstantiated claims about the Mules as these trolls also do on the internet. The police are letting these trolls operate their department.

All human beings and animals on earth require four bare and basic necessities to survive and sustain life…Air, Water, Food, Rest. Restricting access to these basic necessities of life to only those who travel by automobile is illegal and unconstitutional. A person traveling by foot with his/her animal companion must also have access to food, water, and rest. A state, county or town denying a pedestrian/equestrian access to these basic necessities is illegal, unconstitutional and inhumane.

The Public Thoroughfare is not a place for the exclusive use of the high speed automobile. The Public Thoroughfare is a place for all and many varied uses. People trading goods, ideas, talking freely to each other outside in the open air, making friends, stopping to rest/sleep, using their freedom to go where they want, when they want, how they want, trading stories with fellow travelers. The Public Thoroughfare was never intended to be a place exclusively for a high speed deadly machine. Less than 100 years ago before paved roads became prevalent throughout the United States, most Americans traveled by foot, mule, and horse.

The Mules live this nomadic way of life because it is in our bones. This way of life goes back thousands of years. It’s where we want to be. Being anywhere else makes no sense to us. So we stay with the mules and way of life that we have been living for over 31 years. As you walk in this place with these mules, you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth, like no other, can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time.

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CHP denies motorized escort

On April 8, the Mules emailed the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM  to CHP Captain Pembleton and his response via email stated: “I received your email from April 8, 2018. Your concerns on this matter have been thoroughly vetted and adequately addressed. As such, we consider this matter closed.

The Captain would not address the issues in the CALL-DUN-DRUM letter as his response clearly shows. He would not go on record by sending the Mules an emailed response for the public to view where his argument justifying denial of a motorized escort could be scrutinized and withstand public review.

The Mules walked to Oceanside CHP office and asked to speak to Captain Pembleton. He came out of his office and requested we go outside, so we did. We spoke at length with the Captain regarding the issues of the CALL-DUN-DRUM letter. The Captain repeatedly used the word “safety” to justify his non-response to our request for a motorized escort. Motorized escorts by their nature is to promote safety. When you turn on the blue and red flashing lights to slow traffic to 25 miles per hour, you are now in the Twilight Zone, safety beyond all perception has been achieved.

We asked Captain Pembleton to provide us the detailed route turn-by-turn directions that he referred to in his March 30th email. He said to go around the base by going east and north around it on county roads. We asked what are the street names? He would not provide them and said to look up the directions yourself on your phone using Google maps. He would not commit or take responsibility in providing directions to a safer route because there is none. We do not find this an acceptable response as he is telling us to go far out of our way (go to Mars, turn left and proceed to Jack in the Box, when Jack in the Box is only around the block) on an extremely unsafe single lane route with blind curves, little or no shoulder and traffic moving at high speeds to get from Oceanside to San Clemente.

The Mules acting as the ambassadors of the 3 Mules Nation (all those who cherish the right to move freely in this country how they choose, when they choose, whether by horse, bicycle, or foot) have done their job, served their purpose. The Mules have brought energy and attention to this CALL-DUN-DRUM. For the Mules know that the CALL-DUN-DRUM that has taken root on I-5 is a portent (a sign and warning) of things to come – large areas of land being shut off and down to all but a privileged few. 

We now pass the baton of this CALL-DUN-DRUM on to those who will give their energy, time, skills, and creativity to its resolution to ensure that the freedom guaranteed by the law of the land, the United States Constitution, to move freely within its borders be available to all and the generations to come.

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The Mules’s I-5 Arrest and Subsequent Events

Shoulder of I-5 in Oceanside, CA

On February 23, 2018, the Mules were arrested walking on I-5 north between Oceanside and San Clemente. Why were we walking on the side of I-5? Because no alternative route exists to connect a seven-mile stretch between Oceanside and the Pacific Coast Highway trail ending at Las Pulgas Road near Camp Pendleton marine base gate. When no alternative route is available, the law allows access to the interstate by those pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, wheelchairs, etc. who are otherwise denied.

Following is our documented attempts to work with CHP and Caltrans as we have read in California Vehicle Code 21949 that it is the policy off the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access be provided to the residents of the state and 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.

Monday, March 5, 2018
After our arrest and subsequent release, we emailed California Highway Patrol (CHP) commissioners, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) directors and Governor Brown to request a motorized escort if that is what was needed for us to travel this section.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
CHP Captain Pembleton responded on behalf of CHP Commissioner Stanley. His email stated:

Dear Mr. Sears,
 
We received your email regarding an incident you had on Interstate 5 near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base on February 23, 2018. We are responding to you on behalf of California Highway Patrol Commissioner Stanley. Interstate 5 northbound and southbound, between Harbor Drive and Las Pulgas Road is not open to pedestrians and would be in violation of California Vehicle Code section 21960 (a). We contacted the Provost Marshal’s office on Camp Pendleton and they informed us of new security measures now in effect. The Provost Marshal no longer allows individuals access onto the base without proper clearance. In addition, we contacted Caltrans, District 11, regarding this issue. To assist you with your request, you may contact Caltrans at (619) 688-6843, and apply for a special permit to travel from Harbor Drive to Las Pulgas Road on Interstate 5. There are also alternate routes further east through county roadways which will give you access around the Camp Pendleton Base. Mr. Sears our main concern is for the safety of the motoring public and yourself while traveling through California.
 
Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me at the CHP Oceanside Area (760) 643-3400.
 
Brent Pembleton, Captain
Oceanside Area
435 La Tortuga Drive
Vista, CA 92081
(760) 643-3400 Fax (760) 639-3770

 
Captain Pembleton’s recommendation that the Mules go around and through the mountains on dangerous narrow county roads having many blind curves that would be like going to Mars to get to Jack-in-the-Box. This is hardly a safer alternative. The shoulder on I-5 is by far wider and subsequently provides a much higher degree of safety than the roads on the route that was recommended by CHP.
 
CHP Captain Pembleton’s email also stated that if we walked this section of I-5 between Oceanside and Las Pulgas Road, we would be in violation of California Vehicle Code section 21960(a)21960 (a) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, by order, ordinance, or resolution, with respect to freeways, expressways, or designated portions thereof under their respective jurisdictions, to which vehicle access is completely or partially controlled, may prohibit or restrict the use of the freeways, expressways, or any portion thereof by pedestrians, bicycles or other nonmotorized traffic…

If this was the case, why were the Mules stopped and detained for being on I-5, but not the bicyclists who were riding on this same section? This is a photo that we took of a cyclist riding on I-5.

As well, Captain Pembleton referred us to Department of Transportation Caltrans to obtain an encroachment permit. We tried calling several times the Caltrans number listed on Captain Pembleton’s email but the number didn’t work. So, we called Caltrans general information line and was provided additional names that we called….District 12 Lindsey Hart and District Caridad Sanchez. Hart listened with great interest and said she would research and get back to us, but we never heard back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
We emailed 11th District Caltrans Director Cory Binns a second time forwarding him the CHP response and asked him what is the process to apply for a special permit to travel from Harbor Drive to Las Pulgas Road on I-5. Binns immediately responded and forwarded our email to Caltrans Permits Engineer Joy Lee and her supervisor Marco Peinado and said that they will be in touch, but we never heard from them. Instead Joy Lee forwarded our email to Anh Hoang.

Anh Hoang from Caltrans Encroachment Permits for District 11 emailed back.

Dear Mr. Sears,
 
My name is Anh Hoang and I’m with Caltrans Encroachment Permits.
 
What kind of permit do you need? I can assist with the permit process.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
 
Thank you.
 
Anh Hoang
Caltrans Encroachment Permits D. 11 – MS 110
Website: Caltrans Encroachment Permits

 
We immediately responded back to Anh Hoang and Joy Lee via email: “As stated in the email by CHP Captain Pembleton, I need a permit to walk north on I-5 with my mule from Harbor Drive to Las Pulgas Road on Interstate 5. We would need to walk against traffic as my mule and I need to be able to see traffic coming our way. If we are required to walk with the flow of traffic, we would need a motorized escort behind us for our safety.”
 
Thursday, March 8, 2018
We had not yet received a response from Hoang or Lee, so we called Hoang’s phone number in her email. We asked us what was it that we needed to do. We repeated our situation on the phone with her. She said that she would look into it and give us a call back.
 
Monday, March 12, 2018
We sent email to Hoang, Lee and Binns, “Anh, this is John Sears. I spoke to you on Thursday in regards to obtaining a permit to walk on the side of I-5 from Oceanside Harbor Drive to Las Pulgas Road where the coastal trail starts again, because there is no alternative pedestrian route for that 7-mile stretch. You said that you were going to follow-up with your manager. Awaiting your reply.” We did not received any response to this email.
 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
This morning we spoke to Hoang who told us to speak to her supervisor Joy Lee, which is who District 11 Director Cory Binns originally delegated to work with us, but passed us on to her subordinate. Hoang said that the encroachment permit doesn’t apply to our scenario.
 
The Mules sent another email to CHP Captain Pembleton requesting a yes or no answer to whether or not CHP has the administrative authority to give us the Mules an escort for the 7-mile stretch on I-5 where there is no alternative route.
 
Thursday, March 15, 2018
We have not received a written response from CHP. We sent another email to Joy Lee and Cory Binns asking a yes/no question if they have the authority to give the Mules an escort to walk the 7-mile stretch from Oceanside to Las Pulgas Road.
 
Cory Binns immediately responded that he will look into our request and follow-up next week. Note that our original email to him was on March 5, 10 days ago and we have been getting the run around.
 
In the late afternoon, I left a voicemail message to Seth Cutter, Caltrans District 11 Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, who’s role as stated on the Caltrans website is “committed to advocating for the accommodation of all users of the State Highway System.
 
Friday, March 16, 2018
Completed and submitted Base Access Bike Route Request form online and another screen appeared confirming that our submission was successful.

Monday, March 19, 2018
Since the Base Access Bike Route Request form didn’t have a comments section to explain that we were not riding a bike, I made a phone call to Base Access Control number listed on the Bike Route Access Form. I explained to the woman who answered that I am trying to get access to travel north from Oceanside and that we filled out the bicycle access form on Friday, but that I don’t have a bicycle and that I am walking with my mule. She put me on hold for four minutes and said I am not allowed to walk thru the base with an animal and said that gave me the name and phone number of Nick Moran, a point of contact that she said would be able to help me out better.

I called Nick Moran and explained that Base Access Control gave us his number and that I was trying to get access across Camp Pendleton with my mule because there is no alternate route to go south to San Clemente. Mr. Moran said he didn’t know why Base Access gave me his number because he is the physical security officer for the region and that he doesn’t have Camp Pendleton. He asked us to explain our situation further, so I did. We explained that we are nomadic and that the mule carries all my belongings and that we’ve traveled through the base a few times before. He said that there is a requirement by the Department of Defense that there needs to be a legitimate reason to travel through the base. He asked us what we were told by the main gate. We explained that we were told that we could not walk through the base with a horse. Mr. Moran said horses are allowed on the base, but just not on the main road due to safety. He said it is unsafe for people to walk in the base since they have big vehicles that traverse the base, and that people don’t walk inside Camp Pendleton. If that was the case, we asked then why were bicycles were allowed to get from gate to gate as they have the same exposure as a pedestrian. Mr. Moran said that he has no authority to grant us access and to contact our senator to get Department of Defense to change their policy.

This same morning, Caltrans Joy Lee called back with follow-up information providing the Caltrans contact information for Caridad Sanchez, Caltrans Public Information Officer in San Diego, for us to discuss next steps on how to go about changing the California Vehicle Code. Joy said Sanchez is expecting to hear from us and would be able to provide information on how to contact Caltrans headquarters in requesting changes to the California Vehicle code.

We also decided to email Seth Cutter, Caltrans District 11 Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, as he had not returned our phone call yet. I received an immediate out of office response that he was out of the office thru Thursday.

Since Seth was out, I forwarded my email to Caridad Sanchez and stated that Joy Lee told us that she could assist us. Ms. Sanchez never responded back.

Friday, March 23, 2018
I called Seth Cutter. He said that he is well aware of our issue and had his staff researching how they could try to get us thru I-5 with Little Girl. He said that his team contacted the Base. They were also told that we would not be allowed to walk north through Camp Pendleton. He said he exhausted the things he could do and that Joy Lee’s boss, Marcelo Peinado, Caltrans District 11 deputy of traffic operations division, is the person that we needed to speak to. He said that I-5 is on an easement that Caltrans maintains thru the U.S. Marine Corps and is part of the Base. He said that the Caltrans District Engineer beneath Mr. Peinado determines what is allowed and not allowed for District 11.

Monday, March 26, 2018
Called Marcelo Peinado and left voicemail message.

Thursday, March 29, 2018
Spoke to Marcelo Peinado, Traffic Operations for District 11. He said that the reason that they don’t allow pedestrians is that they are concerned of the safety of the pedestrians and motorists and that he stands by this vehicle code. We asked why bicycles were allowed on this section of I-5 and he said that bicycles are not allowed. I said that bicycles were riding past us as I was arrested being put in the CHP car, and the CHP didn’t stop or arrests any of the bicyclists that passed us on I-5. We ask Mr. Peinado if he could provide an Caltrans or CHP escort to slow traffic for us if they were concerned about safety. He said that CHP can provide escort on the highway system and referred to call CHP or look on their website. We said that CHP bounces us back to Caltrans stating that Caltrans has the authority. Mr. Peinado said the way for pedestrian passage in this section of I-5 is to elevate this via the legal route. I asked Mr. Peinado to send us his stance in writing via email. He said we could call Caltrans Customer Service and they would respond within 24 hours. I said not going to call Customer Service as I was speaking to him and provided him my email address.

Sent the following email to Captain Pembleton as he didn’t answer our email that we sent previously.

“Captain Pembleton, we spoke to Marcello Peinado, District 11 Deputy of traffic operations division. He informed us that CHP provides escorts on I-5 to those who would require one for various reasons. Please respond with a yess or no. If yes, where can the public obtain in written form exactly who CHP can provide escorts to and who it cannot. 3Mules is requesting a CHP escort on I-5 where there is no alternative route available (from Oceanside to the Las Pulgas gate Camp Pendleton.”

Friday, March 30, 2018
A straight forward answer to a straight forward question is not what CHP is able to do. Received the following e-mail response from Captain Pembleton:

Mr. Sears,
 
I received your email from yesterday. Interstate 5 northbound and southbound, between Harbor Drive and Las Pulgas Road is not open to pedestrians and would be in violation of California Vehicle Code section 21960(a). There are alternative routes further east through county roadways which will give you access around the Camp Pendleton Base. Our main concern is for the safety of the motoring public and yourself while traveling through California.
 
Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me at the CHP Oceanside Area (760) 643-3400.
 
Brent Pembleton, Captain
Oceanside Area
(760) 643-3400

The Mules have found themselves at what is showing itself to be a point of energy gathering, intensifying, and seeking expression in the unforeseen. The Mules have been given a word sound to identify this place of time and circumstance in which we find ourselves CALL-DUN-DRUM. A place, a condition of confusion, uncertainty, disorder, neglect that’s seeking to settle rest, acquire resolution for itself. By using the Mules as a gathering tool, this place has brought many players to its realm. Listed below are the many players who the Mules have contacted in regards to the I-5 call-dun-drum.

The Mules entered this I-5 call-dun-drum on the day we were arrested on February 23, 2018 and while in its grasp using us the Mules a common-sense practical solution has made itself known. A CHP escort for the 3 Mules and all equestrians seeking passage from Harbor Boulevard in Oceanside to the Old Pacific Coast Highway bike trail start at Los Pulgas on the I-5 call-dun-drum can be made readily available.
 
CHP provides escorts all the time slowing traffic by using its flashing blue and red lights when stopping a motorist, picking up dangerous debris which has fallen from a truck, responding to an accident. This common-sense practical temporary solution granted upon request within a one hour period can be in effect until the obvious more permanent solution being a parallel path where equestrians, hikers and bicycles can move safely separated from the irresponsible high-speed motorist. For the State of California, CHP and Caltrans to use the false pretense of safety when a simple common-sense remedy is in plain view and deny the Mules and all other equestrians the right to move freely in this country using the public thoroughfare is illegal and unconstitutional.

Monday, April 3, 2018
Called Camp Pendleton Base Access to inquiry if the Bicycle Access form that I completed on March 16th was approved and was told that my name is approved to ride a bicycle from gate to gate. I asked if this means that I can also walk across with my mule. Was told that I cannot walk, but must ride a bike. I asked if I can ride a bike with my mule in tow. The person didn’t know the answer to this question and gave me another phone number to call. Called that number and that person didn’t know the answer and gave me another phone number to call. Tried calling the third number and got a message that voicemail box is full, so couldn’t leave a message. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2018
San Diego District Attorney Drops Charge. 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 County 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.
 
Monday, April 8, 2018
The Mules emailed the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM letter to the head of California CHP Warren Stanley, Caltrans District 11 Director Cory Binns, CHP Border Division leaders Jim Abele and Scott Silsbee, Caltrans Director Laurie Berman, CHP Oceanside Captain Brent Pembleton, Caltrans Engineers Marcelo Peinado and Joy Lee, and Camp Pendleton’s Community Relations and Media contact emails.
 
Tuesday, April 9, 2018
CHP Captain Pembleton emailed back: “I received your email from April 8, 2018. Your concerns on this matter have been thoroughly vetted and adequately addressed. As such, we consider this matter closed.
 
The Captain would not address the issues in the CALL-DUN-DRUM letter as his response clearly shows. He would not go on record by sending the Mules an emailed response for the public to view where his argument justifying denial of a motorized escort could be scrutinized and withstand public review.
 
The Mules walked to Oceanside CHP office and asked to speak to Captain Pembleton. He came out of his office and requested we go outside, so we did. We spoke at length with the Captain regarding the issues of the CALL-DUN-DRUM letter. The Captain repeatedly used the word “safety” to justify his non-response to our request for a motorized escort. Motorized escorts by their nature is to promote safety. When you turn on the blue and red flashing lights to slow traffic to 25 miles per hour, you are now in the Twilight Zone, safety beyond all perception has been achieved.

We asked Captain Pembleton to provide us the detailed route turn-by-turn directions that he referred to in his March 30th email. He said to go around the base by going east and north around it on county roads. We asked what are the street names? He would not provide them and said to look up the directions yourself on your phone using Google maps. He would not commit or take responsibility in providing directions to a safer route because there is none. We do not find this an acceptable response as he is telling us to go far out of our way (go to Mars, turn left and proceed to Jack in the Box, when Jack in the Box is only around the block) on an extremely unsafe single lane route with blind curves, little or no shoulder and traffic moving at high speeds to get from Oceanside to San Clemente.
 
The Mules acting as the ambassadors of the 3 Mules Nation (all those who cherish the right to move freely in this country how they choose, when they choose, whether by horse, bicycle, or foot) have done their job, served their purpose. The Mules have brought energy and attention to this CALL-DUN-DRUM. For the Mules know that the CALL-DUN-DRUM that has taken root on I-5 is a portent (a sign and warning) of things to come – large areas of land being shut off and down to all but a privileged few.
 
We now pass the baton of this CALL-DUN-DRUM on to those who will give their energy, time, skills, and creativity to its resolution to ensure that the freedom guaranteed by the law of the land, the United States Constitution, to move freely within its borders be available to all and the generations to come.
 

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This problem which has been festering for years and which now has come to a head due to Camp Pendleton refusing the Mules and other pedestrians access to travel through the base.

Here is a thread in Walkabout California website where one pedestrian named WenderzW posted on June 20, 2017:

“Attempted this leg…and was denied entry into Camp Pendleton as they noted no walkers or runners are allowed on the bike trail…they must have rules to view anyone on foot as a threat as they pulled out guns and was very intense about our presence.” 
 
The Mules are proposing a simple common sense solution. Caltrans post on its overhead neon signs a mandatory speed reduction to 50mph for the seven-mile stretch between Harbor Boulevard and Las Pulgas Road. This would allow the Mules, pedestrians, cyclists and all other legal users a safe passageway (due to I-5’s extra wide shoulder) in this 7-mile section with no alternate route. There is 24 hours in every day. Many of those hours are consigned to rush hour traffic where speed is well below the 50 mph limit. The remaining hours at which a 50 mph speed limit would be in force is only a seven-mile stretch. They can make it safer by putting in a cement barrier as they do on other roads and bridges.
 
There are many examples throughout the state where pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian access is allowed on interstate freeways in California. A 3-mile stretch north out of San Luis Obispo being one.
 
This simple, common sense solution would make I-5 with its extremely wide shoulder at least as safe as any of the county and state roads with their narrow shoulders and blind curves that the Mules travel every day throughout the state.
 
Per all our conversations above, we will need to contact our state senator to contact the Department of Defense to get the No Access to Pedestrians policy changed for this section between Oceanside and San Clemente. We will be reaching out to Caridad Sanchez again on how to get this process started. When we have this information, we will share with the Three Mules Nation, Walkabout California and other walking, hiking and equestrian groups, on how you can help get this policy changed for this short section between Oceanside and San Clemente.
 

The Mules

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An Open Letter to State of California Caltrans and CHP

My name is John Sears. Myself and Little Girl the Mule were stopped while walking on I-5 by CHP and told to go back to Harbor Boulevard in Oceanside and leave I-5. We said there is no alternative route from Oceanside to the Old Pacific Coast Highway Trail that starts at I-5/Las Pulgas Road. Camp Pendleton is closed to pedestrians so I-5 by default is the only available route. CHP officer arrested me and impounded Little Girl.

We were told by CHP as well as Caltrans that California Vehicle Code 21960(a) does not allow pedestrians on this part of I-5. The Mules have responded that 21960(a) can only be enforced when an alternate route, such as a frontage road, is present. For the CHP/Caltrans to use 21960(a) to justify the removal and arrest of the Mules from I-5 was illegal and unconstitutional.

While we were being arrested, bicyclists were riding by us on I-5. Caltrans told us that bicyclists are not allowed to ride on the shoulder of I-5 either. Yet the CHP did not stop and arrests the cyclists.

Per California Vehicle Code 21949(a) effective January 1, 2001, 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, and 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. On the day we were arrested on I-5, CHP failed its responsibility under state law and its stated mission to serve and provide safe and convenient passage.

Since our arrest, we reached out by phone and email to Caltrans, CHP and Camp Pendleton to request an escort or be provided a safe and convenient alternate route. We had numerous conversations and those that we spoke to repeated the same message that pedestrians are not allowed on I-5 or in Camp Pendleton. They did not provide any alternative solution to travel north from Oceanside to San Clemente.

The above being said and understood, the Mules are notifying CHP and Caltrans that upon request, a motorized CHP or Caltrans escort must be made available for the Mules and any horsemen/horsewomen needing to traverse I-5 between Las Pulgas Road and Harbor Boulevard. Because there is no alternative street or highway between Oceanside and Las Pulgas Road, I-5 access defaults to that of a street and highway for pedestrians and equestrians. This will be a temporary solution until a more obvious permanent solution of a parallel path where pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists can move safely along I-5 in this section where there is no alternative route.

For Caltrans and CHP representing the State of California to fail to provide the necessary escort or to provide an alternate safer and convenient route will be considered to be gross negligence and an abrogation of their stated mission and responsibility serving the people of California. This failure will initiate a class action lawsuit.

The Mules will be expecting a response to the issues of the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM addressed in this letter.

The Mules
3mules.com

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The Mules and the I-5 CALL-DUN-DRUM

The Mules have found themselves at what is showing itself to be a point of energy gathering, intensifying, and seeking expression in the unforeseen. The Mules have been given a word sound to identify this place of time and circumstance in which we find ourselves CALL-DUN-DRUM. A place, a condition of confusion, uncertainty, disorder, neglect that’s seeking to settle rest, acquire resolution for itself.

By using the Mules as a gathering tool, this place has brought many players to its realm. Listed below are the many players who the Mules have contacted in regards to the I-5 Call-Dun-Drum (excluded from list is Camp Pendleton Access Control office and regional physical security officer Nick Moran who we also spoke with on the phone).

The Mules entered this I-5 call-dun-drum on the day we were arrested on February 23, 2018 and while in its grasp using us the Mules a common-sense practical solution has made itself known. A CHP escort for the 3 Mules and all equestrians seeking passage from Harbor Boulevard in Oceanside to the Old Pacific Coast Highway bike trail start at Los Pulgas on the I-5 call-dun-drum can be made readily available.

CHP provides escorts all the time slowing traffic by using its flashing blue and red lights when stopping a motorist, picking up dangerous debris which has fallen from a truck, responding to an accident. This common-sense practical temporary solution granted upon request within a one hour period can be in effect until the obvious more permanent solution being a parallel path where equestrians, hikers and bicycles can move safely separated from the irresponsible high-speed motorist. For the State of California, CHP and Caltrans to use the false pretense of safety when a simple common-sense remedy is in plain view and deny the Mules and all other equestrians the right to move freely in this country using the public thoroughfare is illegal and unconstitutional.

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Request for Motorized Escort by Caltrans or CHP

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Mules emailed California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) requesting motorized escort in the seven mile section where no other public pedestrian route is provided from Oceanside to the Old Pacific Highway Trail. 

The email was sent to
– Laurie Berman, Caltrans Chief Deputy Director
– Cory Binns, Caltrans Director District 11
– Rachel Carpenter, Caltrans Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Branch Chief
– Warren Stanley, CHP Commissioner
– Scott Silsbee, CHP Deputy Commissioner
– Jim Abele, CHP Border Division Chief
– Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California

The email stated the following:

Hello, my name is John Sears. I serve in the capacity of a roving monk living outside with one pack mule named Little Girl, who has been by my side for the past 25 years walking the western United States, exercising our constitutional right to use the federal, state, county, and city public thoroughfare. We also refer to ourselves as “The Mules” and document our journey extensively on our website 3Mules.com and our 3 Mules Facebook page.

On February 23, 2018, we went to Camp Pendleton’s Main Gate and requested passage to walk through the base to get to the Las Pulgas gate so that we could continue our journey onto the Old Pacific Highway Trail to San Clemente as we have done as part of our migratory journey three times in the past four years. We were denied access this time because we were not traveling by bicycle.

Upon getting off the base, I phone 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. The watch commander told me that I would not be allowed on I­-5. I said that 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 that we will be walking on I-5. The watch commander said, “Use your best judgement.”

After walking for about 30 minutes on I­-5, we were stopped by CHP demanding that we turn around and leave I­-5 or face arrest. We refused to leave asserting our right to use the public thoroughfare as this was the only route that will take us to the Old Pacific Highway Trail under seven miles away. The public thoroughfare is not, nor was it ever intended for the exclusive use of high speed automobiles. Bicyclists were riding on this same I­-5 shoulder and were not stopped, detained or arrested. However, the Mules were arrested, charged with Penal Code 148(A) obstruction failing to obey a police officer with the Monk taken to Vista Detention Center, released and given a Notice to Appear in North Division Court in Vista on April 6, 2018. Little Girl was impounded and held at the Humane Society Animal Shelter in Escondido.

The Mules still need to travel north to San Clemente. I­-5 is still the only available route. I am writing you to request a motorized escort to be provided by Caltrans, CHP or both in this seven mile section where no other public route is provided from Oceanside until we can reach the Old Pacific Highway Trail and continue our journey north.

In researching California and other cases, we found the following:

California Law Vehicle Code 21949, effective January 1, 2001, passed by the California Legislature

(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.

California Department of Transportation Manual Chapter Topic 105 Pedestrian Facilities

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. All state highway projects administered by Caltrans….must be designed in accordance with the requirements in Design Information Bulletin 82, “Pedestrian Accessibility Guidelines for Highway Projects.”

  • “The use of the highways for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common and fundamental Right of which the public and the individual cannot be rightfully deprived.” [Ligare vs. Chicago, 28 NE 934; Boon vs. Clark, 214 SSW 607; 25 Am.Jur. (1st) Highways Section. 165]
  • “The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by horse drawn carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city can prohibit or permit at will, but a common Right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” [Supreme Court of Virginia, Thompson V. Smith, 154 SE 579.]

Since I live outside and keep my phone off to preserve battery, I can best be contacted via e­mail, ThreeMuleJourney@gmail.com. Please provide contact on who I may phone to discuss my request to continue our journey walking north from Oceanside to San Clemente with my pack mule.

Sincerely,

John Sears
ThreeMuleJourney@gmail.com
3Mules.com

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