A mule and a horse go for a walk.
A lazy stroll, 3.17 miles in 1:46 hours.
We started out at the staging area for Live Oak Camp, and our first task was to ford the mighty Santa Ynez River.
Not a drop of water anywhere.
But there was a sweet broom bush that looked like a topiary, a perfect ball in the river bottom drainage.
Tobe got to meet a new friend, Mr Stoney. While Tobe is quite the old hand at trails, it was all new for Stoney. Exciting smells and sights, enough to inspire flared nostrils and prancing feet. But pretty soon he decided if he was with Tobe everything would be OK.
It was a splendid day, actual weather! The clouds overhead were a constant display of light and shadow, and brought the landscape alive.
If you look with eagle eyes or image magnification you will see the cows Tobe is riveted on, directly between his radar ears. This was about as close as we thought we ought to take Stoney.
Fortunately the cows are on the other side of the fence, on the Rancho San Fernando Rey which borders the public lands of the Live Oak area.
You can see from his coloration how Stoney got his name.
Cowgirl Miss Molly has him well in hand, and as inexperienced as he was he drew strength from the confidence of the animals and humans he was with and did very well indeed.
We prepared for a rodeo, we got a leisurely stroll.
If we were in some place like the MidWest these clouds might have meant trouble, but here in EarthQuake Country we fear no climate!
Neither does a mule rider fear an unmarked trail! Having had enough of that grassland savannah, I suggested we dip down into a creekbed and cruise around in the oak trees. At one point an oak branch broke off and lay across Tobe's neck, while he waited for me to remove it. Twice I picked a trail that turned out to be impossible and he calmly backed out of the thicket and started over onto another cow path.
Not for nothing does Tobe's name rhyme with Job, he is long suffering and patient.
Then we popped back up onto the trail and proceeded to head back to the trailers.
This beauty on my doorstep, with a trusty mule to carry me through it. What a gift.
Tobe says "Nuthin' to it, Ma'am. All in a day's work for a mule."