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Scenery wows along the Arizona-Mexico border. This
IHAVE JUST SPENT
The beauty is everywhere, and is often dramatic and stark, as when we walked out of a restaurant near Tubac and faced a jagged range of peaks etched against a still-bright sky long after sunset.
Surprises abound, too.
This wouldn't mean anything if I hadn't been to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California early this year. There, I learned of a Spanish expedition led by Capt. Juan Batista de Anza in the 1770s, from northern Mexico through deserts to the coast. They named their new home San Francisco.
Brief later research failed to establish definitively many details of de Anza's overland expeditions, but he was clearly a major figure in Spanish explorations and settlement
One exploration involved a large number of civilian colonists, possibly departing from Tubac in about 1776 and arriving in the
The most significant California expedition appears
So although I came to learn about the first printing press and newspaper in the Arizona Territory, I discovered the origins of land settlement hundreds of miles away, on the Pacific Coast.
Several locals told me that de Anza's Trail was a few blocks away. I set out walking past quirky, colorful homes and a cattle lot and horse farm.
There, at the edge of a dense, dark woods, was a small sign: "ANZA TRAIL."
No sooner had I walked into the tall grasses and overhanging trees than mosquitoes found me, biting furiously. But there it was--a dirt path near a lovely creek. This was an ancient, time-worn footpath, where Indians and Spanish settlers and, yes, 21st-century illegals have walked by the thousands into our land.
Distance and time tie together all things and places.
Tubac is but a few miles from the border. Its roots are deep in the earliest Spanish settlement of what would become the Arizona Territory and, in 1912, today's state.
I snapped photos, then walked back into the old town, past a pottery shop, to the state historical park and St. Ann's, an early Roman Catholic church. The church was locked, the park closed. But there was an open alcove across the street. I poked my head around back.
An older gentleman and two women were taking a break. I introduced myself and they offered a cold lemonade. We talked.
The more I listened to the man's story, the more I shifted from "traveler" to "journalist." His story will appear in a future column.
Paul Sullivan of Spotsylvania