3 Mules (.com) For Sister Alison-Weird Sighting of the Commuter Day
I haven't encountered any truly head-scratchingly weird sights--the kind that inspire posts about "the weirdest thing I've seen all day"--for several months of commuting. I was beginning to think my exposure to roadside oddities peaked when I saw the shirtless biker playing a guitar while crossing the Morena Boulevard bridge last year. But unexpectedly, while headed from work down Murphy Canyon Road on the way to the bike trail/Qualcomm yesterday, that boring streak was broken.
As soon as I passed the onramp to I-15 and approached the area where Murphy Canyon dead-ends into the bike trail, I caught sight of what appeared to be 3 horses at the side of the road with a person standing near them. My first thought was that someone shipping horses up or down I-15 had decided to pull their trailer off the freeway to give them a break. But as I came closer I found the big flaws in this logic:
These were in fact 3 MULES. My livestock identification is not that great--I was aided considerably by the fact that "3Mules.com" was painted on the saddlebag of one of them.
This definitely impressed me as something weird... and the weathered-looking old fellow standing by the mules did nothing to dispell the impression. Unfortunately, I was running so late that despite my curiosity I had time only to snap 3 photos and ask 2 lame questions:
"Are they yours?" (Yes)
"Where did they come from?" (Nevada)
The website www.3mules.com didn't help clear up the mystery nearly as much as I had hoped either. There is just one page with some photos of the mules and a somewhat mystical/New Age-y, distinctly NON-FAQ-style response to "the most asked questions: Who are we? Where are we from? And where are we going?"
My first try on Google was equally frustrating, when search for "3 Mules" produced a random "Google Salad" of results including:
Online shoe shopping site listings of mules (a slip-on backless women's shoe) with 3-inch heels
Developer information for Mule 3 software from Mulesoft
The Wikipedia entry for the Clint Eastwood/Shirley MacLaine western "Two Mules for Sister Sara."
A search specifying "3Mules.com" was more productive. It indicates that while not up at present, at some point the website had additional pages with photos, a contact form asking for copies of photos taken of the Mules, and even audio. And while no explanations seemed forthcoming, there have been quite a few recent sightings of the man Lance Howland refers to in a 10/8 Lamorinda Patch story as "The Mysterious Mountain Man with 3 Mules."
While I had never heard of the Lamorinda Patch, their people seem to have cornered this story. This 8/12 article is an account of "Patcher" Walt Bateman's conversation with the mysterious stranger, who has been walking with his mules for 28 years, now full-time. Other Google results from Tumblr and Whois indicate the MMM is named John Sears.
As it turns out, not only did I get a long-overdue weird sight of the commuting day--I also got my own firsthand look at what appears to be a real-life regional legend!
cranky before my time (seriously, a 40-year-old curmudgeon), active, trying to make my big break to writing professionally even if just for enough $ to buy an extra pair of tights or bike tire tube per month!