There is a man wandering around California with three mules.
September 11, 2013 9:35 AM   Subscribe

His name is Mule, and he has been wandering for 29 of his 65 years. He has a website, and a presence on Facebook, but otherwise lives a very simple life, traveling on foot with his three mules, sleeping mostly outside and living hand to mouth. In his effort to make a statement about urban sprawl and our increasing dependence on cars, he often faces harassment from police. If you ever have come across him, it is a sight you will not forget.
posted by Blogwardo (35 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Two mules I could understand but three just seems extravagant.
posted by srboisvert at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Two mules I could understand but three just seems extravagant.

They're really for Sister Sara.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:48 AM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


This guy and his story seem really interesting but the article reads like it was written by a sixth grader. Except that a sixth grader could probably spell "Gandhi" correctly.
posted by sweetkid at 9:48 AM on September 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


At least The Rattlesnake's name is metaphorical.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 AM on September 11, 2013


They arrested him for failing to follow the orders of a police officer, and Mule was taken to jail, and then transferred to a psychiatric facility, where he stayed locked up for six days.

Wow, that is just really fantastically shitty.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Two years ago, he walked the 295 mile stretch of land between Las Vegas and Ely, Nevada". That is some fucking hard core territory. I get nervous driving through that without two day's supply of water with me. Can't imagine walking it.
posted by Nelson at 9:58 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


srboisvert: "Two mules I could understand but three just seems extravagant."

Settle down, Gretchen Carlson.
posted by boo_radley at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2013


His name is Mule, and he has been wandering for 29 of his 65 years.
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land.
And when he shines he really shows you all he can
Oh Mule, Mule, wander for 29 of your 65 years across the Rio Grande.

No, no, the second line built nicely on the first and I thought it was looking promising, but then it just kind of lost track of the narrative thread and the rest of it doesn't really work at all.

Thank you for coming in, though. Do get in touch when you've got something new to show us.
posted by Naberius at 10:12 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Neat article, although I did wonder about "He has the build of Ghandi, but he sure doesn't have the personality of Ghandi."

Because the perseverance and oddball lifestyle is very reminiscent of Gandhi. Perhaps he's more of a mule-riding, High Plains Drifter sort personality?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:17 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because the perseverance and oddball lifestyle is very reminiscent of Gandhi. Perhaps he's more of a mule-riding, High Plains Drifter sort personality?

You're thinking of the Man with No Name from the Dollars Trilogy as far as riding a mule. The drifter in High Plains Drifter rode a pale white horse befitting the character's role in the movie.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:38 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


As Mule likes to put it, “We live everywhere and aren’t going anywhere.”

I am not sure I get the deeper meaning of this sentence, but I like it.

I also am having a hard time picturing where he ties up his mules when he goes into Starbucks to charge his device batteries. I have never seen a SBUX with an old west hitching post.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:58 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how the linked twitter post has a caption saying, "There's a guy with mules in Menlo Park. WTF"

WTF is right, who ever thought there might have been a time when you'd see people walking around with beasts in public!
posted by anewnadir at 11:00 AM on September 11, 2013


He walked through my town here in SoCal about a year ago. I was on my lunch break, and, being the city-slicker (read: moron with animals) I am, I walked up behind the mules, phone-camera at the ready. One of the mules spooked for a second and I felt like I'd almost sent one of those mules into the traffic of a busy 6-lane street. I fear for his & those animals' safety when he walks through urban environments.
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:55 AM on September 11, 2013


Are they the same mules for 29 years? Do mules live that long or did the progenitor mules make mule-cubs?

heeheee
posted by Mister_A at 12:16 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]




Same article, further down: "There are no recorded cases of fertile mule stallions. A few female mules have produced offspring when mated with a purebred horse or donkey."
posted by Daddy-O at 12:39 PM on September 11, 2013


Are they the same mules for 29 years?
He's had the mules for 10 years, according to the article.
posted by linux at 12:40 PM on September 11, 2013


Cool, I am going to start a mule-breeding collective!
posted by Mister_A at 12:48 PM on September 11, 2013


One more thing to put in the "this world isn't complete shit" column.
posted by orme at 12:53 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's nice to be reminded that I always have new career opportunities, should I choose.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:54 PM on September 11, 2013


Cheers to this post for introducing me to Mules And More Magazine. It's not just about mules, they've also got more!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:06 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given his name, are we sure that he isn't actually this guy? Because if he is, watch out!
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 1:09 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shades of Georgia's Charles “Goat Man” McCartney. Except less goatier.

Mules are the best, though. Went to the MO state fair one year, and not surprisingly, there was a mule show. There were the big mules, exquisitely groomed, ribbons in the manes being led in by their proud breeders. The first three mules took their place in the lineup gracefully, but #4, well something spooked that one. It did the classic ‘// //’ stance and was not for moving. The lineup went slow that afternoon.
posted by scruss at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also am having a hard time picturing where he ties up his mules when he goes into Starbucks to charge his device batteries. I have never seen a SBUX with an old west hitching post.

Bike racks work pretty well. Though you will freak out the cyclists.
posted by emjaybee at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2013


It's nice to be reminded that I always have new career opportunities, should I choose.

We're gonna need a bigger mule.
posted by arcticseal at 4:36 PM on September 11, 2013


I saw a mule break free from his plow
I saw him fly away with the dove
I saw a wounded man in the graveyard
whispering "all I needed was love"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:55 PM on September 11, 2013


Do mules live that long or did the progenitor mules make mule-cubs?

His mules are just youngins. I was gifted with a free mule, supposedly age ten, closer to eighteen. That would be mature for a horse, but mules can live till their 40, if cared for properly and not overworked. A fella down the road still uses his 30 year old saddle mule for hunting and general riding. There have been instances of mules living till sixty.

I may have to write the bugger into my will.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:48 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


3mules.com is giving me a 403 forbidden error.
Also, fuck the police.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:33 PM on September 11, 2013


The instant I saw this...

There is a man wandering around California with three mules

... I knew I'd have to write a song around it. So I did. I also recorded it, and posted it to Metafilter Music, in, *ahem*, record time. It's called Man With Three Mules.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:44 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


... I knew I'd have to write a song around it. So I did. I also recorded it, and posted it to Metafilter Music, in, *ahem*, record time. It's called Man With Three Mules.
posted by flapjax at midnite


I rate it the full 3 mules! Well done.
(the song, not the mules)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:05 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, I always get a bit emotional to see people eking out a life in the cracks of our society. It is hard to believe he is able to continue living this way in California, where so many well-intentioned laws make it difficult for him. I feel sorry for the judge who has to carry the weight of finding Mule's choice of life-style to be in conflict with the prevailing laws.
posted by ianhattwick at 12:29 PM on September 12, 2013


One mule to ride, one to pack, one to travel light. Also, on some days they all have to work. His critters aren't that big, but mules are often task-oriented, and mostly they just want for you to let them do their job without bothering them by pretending you run the outfit. They generally are slower to develop, and have a longer middle age than horses. I've seen working mules in their 30's do what horses that age only wish they could still do. Mules and horses are good company on hard trails and cold camps.

I can sympathize with the life of an itinerant packer. I lived that way for a few years. A short period of that phase was with a partner, but most of it was solitary, except for stints at temporary jobs, where I lived in a bunk house or a line shack, or in my own shelter. I believe there's a point of no return, living that way, where a person finally gives up trying to fit in with people. I don't know that it would be my first choice, especially not nowadays, when I'm old and soft, but at one time I considered the idea of just keeping on keeping on that way. It sometimes got lonely, but mostly I liked it--not seeing people for long stretches of time.

This doesn't seem to be "Mule's" way, though. He seems to like to come in amongst the civilians now and then.

One winter, right around Christmas (the winter of 1976-77), my partner and I rode down the eastern side of the Sierras. We had crossed the spine at the Western Divide, somewhat to the east of Porterville, and followed a Kern River tributary into Whiskey Town, at the northern end of Lake Isabella. My partner rode a POA-thoroughbred cross, and towed a gruella gelding packed with our kitchen stuff. I rode an Arabian-morgan cross, and towed a large cotton mule we called Tonner, who carried our camp gear and possibles. It was a good crossing, if a bit deep with snow in some places. We'd had to wait out a storm in Johnsondale, but the local residents let us use a barn for a few days, and supplemented our critter feed with a bale of straw. After the storm let up, we were able to continue down the flank of the mountain to below the snowline, to where we figured to get resupplied and spend Christmas--Whiskey Town.

Whiskey Town had no facilities for our stock, so we sneaked into some dense willows along the banks of the Kern, and found a good spot to stop for a few days. While Jaymi took our filthy clothes to the laundromat, I towed Tonner across the bridge to the grange--I guess it was the grange, because it sold horse stuff, tools, and most important, hay. I tied my horse and Tonner up to the iron post that held their sign, and clumped in, spurs-a-jingle, to do my shopping.

When I paid for the hay, the cashier kindly offered to help me take the bale out to my pickup truck on one of their hand carts. I accepted, but said, well, you can help me load in on my mule, if you want. He laughed and followed me outside. I enjoyed his double take when we got to where I'd tied the horse and Tonner. But he was nothing if not quick on the uptake, and he helped me divide the bale, manty it up, and load it onto Tonner's pack saddle.

By the time I got back to our little camp, Jaymi had created a dutch oven with river rocks fueled with dead wood, and was baking a pair of game hens (which she'd bought at the supermarket while she was waiting for the laundry to work its way through the machines). She said she had no trouble with her horses. It seems Whiskey Town was still in its throes of pretensions of representing the old west, and hitching posts were the usual ornament at the head of various parking spaces around town.

Oh, and by the way, she told me, she'd bumped into a man and his daughter, who told her that he had a half acre of knee-deep lawn that our livestock might love to mow down for him, if we'd care to stop over. We spent our Christmas dinner at our camp, sitting on a dead log, eating game hens, and the next day we went to his place. Our critters needed until New Years Day to finish off the grass in his yard, so we slept in a spare room in their house. We crossed the last of the Sierra's minor ridges at Bird Spring Pass, and continued across the desert to explore the Mojave in its winter visage.
posted by mule98J at 1:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Darn, he was near my town and I never saw him.

There are quite a few people out there permanently wandering.

This fellow has been on his sidecar motorcycle with his dog for a decade or more.

http://theoasisofmysoul.com/

He tells great stories, does photos and movies too. Worth a look....
posted by CrowGoat at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2013






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