I was sitting back having a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale(ChicoStyle), celebrating the 4th. I caught a glimpse out of the window of a man and 3 equines. I immediately knew it was him. 3Mules.com. I had come across the story of his amazing journey while web surfing a couple years ago. A man and his 3 Mules traveling the State of California. My recollection of why was murky, but that didn’t matter. Like “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, it was more about the adventure than the destination.
I yelled out “3 Mules!, 3 Mules!” My wife and guests had no idea what I was talking about. He and the Mules were walking at a very brisk pace, there wasn’t a second to spare. I grabbed my camera and ran out the door. “Hey there, I saw you on the internet a couple years ago”. He was friendly and let me take pictures of the mules and him. With the temperature near 100 degrees I offered him some cold water, but he declined.
“What’s Your Message?”, I asked. “Freedom”, he said. This 4th of July just got real. “To travel freely” he says, as a police car drives by slowly for the third time in two minutes. Turns out, not everyone thinks his journey is so amazing. He has received citations and even been arrested for traveling the state with his Mules. To the credit of Chico Police, I believe he made it out of the city without any citations.
He likes to be called Mule. The 3 Mules names are Who-Dee-Doo (the newest member of the group), Lady (the oldest), and Little Girl (the lead mule). Like Kwai Chang Caine from the classic TV show Kung Fu. A man with a simple appearance, walking the land on a seemingly endless journey, but extraordinarily in tune with the “Natural World” and mystical forces.
His quest is to bring awareness to the ever shrinking free space by the”Mega- tropolis” and to establish a statewide network of paths and trails for Hikers, Cyclists, and Mules. It was getting late in the evening and I told him “I better let you get on your way” and with a nod, off he went.
He was gone as quick as he appeared. Reflecting on the encounter, I regretted not convincing him to have some cold water. I had carrots in the fridge, I had oats. If only I’d given him advice on where to get the Mules a drink, and where to spend the night.
Checking on him the next day on Facebook, he had posted this photo and message.
“Where we slept last night. Where we going now? Who knows? Great way to be.” – in Chico, CA
I realized that he had left the comfort of the world I live in (the “Man-Made” world) far behind, and that he was on another level altogether. A Master of the “Natural World”. One with it, protected by it.