This week, a police escort chaperoned an unusual pedestrian leading three pack mules along Coast Highway, gently shepherding the visitors east towards the city limits.
“It was a first for everyone,” said the police’s Jim Beres, who supervises animal control officers that more routinely deal with snakes, skunks, deer, coyotes and shore birds.
John Sears, of Phoenix, Ariz., told police he set out on foot in February for Sacramento, where he intended meet with California’s governor or members of the state legislature to advocate for more horse trails and to protest the ill-affects of motorized vehicles, Beres said. His website, 3mules.com, does little to explain his mission.
Even so, he presented a bit of an equestrian dilemma for police. Alerted by sheriff’s deputies of Sears’ northward route along Coast Highway in northbound lanes, police initially corralled him and his animals in the Aliso Beach east parking lot, said Beres. Police tried to divert him through the golf course and into the wilderness park.
“He was insistent on exercising his right to public roads,” said Beres, noting that Sears’ caravan did not violate the vehicle code. “We did not want to arrest him. What were we going to do with the mules?” he asked.
Though Sears told police his mules were more likely to be spooked by traffic coming from behind them, police believed walking against traffic to be unsafe and persuaded him to travel on Coast Highway’s southbound lanes to Ruby Street, where he was redirected to a less traveled parallel thoroughfare, Glenneyre Street. Sears and his mules traversed behind City Hall and into Laguna Canyon, where Beres said he was permitted to camp overnight on Tuesday.
He was last headed towards Irvine, 368 miles from Phoenix and 434 miles from Sacramento.
Sears may be tilting at windmills, but he had the courtesy to bring his own dust pan.