This morning, I imagine De Anza travelling on the west side of the Santa Cruz River, not the east side designated "auto route" on Mission Road. That would make my commute to work 6 miles longer with a climb up Helmet Peak. Not up for that today.
My commute begins with a cruise down 6th Avenue through Tucson and South Tucson. Bad Odors! Blech, I smell a ginko biloba tree with smashed stinky ginko pods somewhere along the sidewalk. I'm all for pleasant streetscapes, but please, no stinky ginko! Memo to South Tucson: Remove this offensive tree.
I continue south past assorted used car and used tire retaliers, fighting a slight headwind. I pass the road to the airport and vice corner: Tobacco Barn and Desert Diamond Casino. I'm now riding on Nogales Highway.
The Tohono O'odham Nation is next with Lazy Acres Mobile Home Park, a few horses, a few hay bales, and lots of empty space. In 1774, De Anza hired an O'odham translator to guide him through southern Arizona. He paid the translator as much as his Spanish soldiers. It was worth it: a native named Luis warned Anza in the O'odham language that he might be in danger from the natives near Yuma.
As I approach the Town of Sahuarita, I turn west and ride the northern edge of the pecan groves. I turn south into Rancho Sahuarita, bedroom community of happy young families and assorted trails including one called the De Anza Trail.
I turn onto its broken pavement heading south, with pecan groves on my left and open space, also known as "flood plain" on my right. Beyond the green-from-monsoon-rain flood plain, Mexican tile rooftops sprawl across the former Sonoran desert to the copper mine tailings pile. Little did Conquistador De Anza know what the Sonoran desert would become. Copper, cotton, and cattle--the three Cs of Arizona.
Front to back: Open space, stucco, copper mine, mountain, sky.
Monsoon rains create mud puddles and muddy cracks that spit out baby toads as I pedal past. The Colorado River Toad is know for its toxic skin and venom that is poisonous to dogs and people. So don't lick them, even if you have heard about the hallucinegenic properties of toad toxin!
The owners of the pecan groves plan to develop "Sahuarita Farms" which is nothing like a farm and a lot like a housing development, but with pleasant Santa Cruz River walking and biking trails.
I ride near an overflow channel of the Santa Cruz River and admire the flowers and mountain scenery.
I turn west onto a neigborhood street, then the De Anza Trail abruptly turns north. I realize I have been riding on the IMPOSTER De Anza trail. The trail that is circular. De Anza never rode in circles. Conquistadors just don't do that.
I turn south, because it was the path of De Anza, and more importantly, the direction of my office. I ride through the road construction zone without incident, reach my office, take a quick shower and I'm ready for work.
I've ridden about 20 miles in the Conquistador's route on my morning commute. The Santa Cruz River remains dry, but tall green grasses and blooming creosote mark the middle of the Sonoran monsoon season. I'll retrace my route on a humid ride home on this August afternoon.
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail runs from Nogales, AZ, to San Francisco, CA.
De Anza Trail miles: 20
Total De Anza Trail miles: 34
Total ride miles: 20