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The mules have made it across the bridge.

When John Sears appeared in Sonoma County with his three mules earlier this month, the pensive wanderer was hoping for better luck at the Golden Gate Bridge than he had encountered at the Highway 29 bridge over the Napa River.

Highway Patrol officers arrested Sears on June 26 after he and the animals walked across near Napa's George F. Butler Bridge. The CHP said had he ignored one officer's order that he stop and he later became verbally combative with others.

Sears — he prefers the name Mule — arrived Friday at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. He tied the mules under some trees in the parking area, then snapped off a branch about as long as his mules are wide.

Sears, who's 65 and a Bay Area native who tells of roaming with mules through 16 states, then walked the entire span, using the stick to measure whether there would be any tight spots for his pack animals.

Reaching the south end, he decided it would safe for his entourage to pass late at night, after all the cyclists and pedestrians had left. He asked permission to cross.

Kary Witt, deputy general manager of the bridge, went out and talked with him.

Witt said it would not be safe for him to walk across the mules. He and other bridge officials also were loathe to allow a precedent that might encourage others to come to the famed span with animals.

But Witt didn't merely send Sears away. Calls were made, and officers with the mounted unit of the National Park Service Police arrived with a horse trailer and offered Sears and his animals a ride.

Sears accepted. The officers whisked the travelers across the span and let them off in equestrian-friendly Golden Gate Park.

John McDonald, the Southern California filmmaker who's shooting a documentary on Sears and his mules, had his camera on through the encounter at the bridge and found "there was a lot tension in the entire situation."

McDonald was with Sears again Saturday as he and mules ambled southward through the city. Sears intends to enjoy the refuge of the Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest en route to San Diego, where he will fight a ranger's citation that alleges he camped illegally last November in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

The mule man maintains he wasn't on reserve property and it shouldn't be a crime in America for a traveler to rest along a road.

<strong>TULE'S WHEELS:</strong> A car hit a yellow Labrador named Tule on Santa Rosa's Brush Creek Road in 2006, paralyzing her rear legs.

Lisa Ellisen wasn't about to put her beloved dog down. Instead she put out a good deal of money for one of those doggie wheelchairs that suspends the rear legs.

One day last week, it had a flat tire. Ellisen took it to Jonathan's Bike Shop on north Farmers Lane, near the Flamingo Hotel.

She wheeled in the cart and was told apologetically that the shop was too busy right then and she'd need to bring it back the next day.

So she returned with it to her car. The 12-year-old Tule was in the car and was due for a potty break, so Ellisen carried her to an appropriate spot.

When Tule finished, Ellisen carried her back to the car, got in herself and drove off.

It was the following morning, Wednesday, that she realized she'd left the wheelchair in the parking lot. She returned to find that Tule's cart was gone and no one at the little shopping center had seen who had taken it.

How she'd love for it to come back so Tule can get rolling again.

<strong>JACK, TOO:</strong> Some wonder what's

going up on the site of the Jack in the Box drive-through that was demolished recently on Steele Lane, near Coddingtown.

I pulled in and asked a fellow on the construction crew what will replace the well-worn old Jack in the Box. He said a shiny new one.

<em>Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.</em>