Anza Trail Blog

Anza Days 2013: Discovering Beauty and Family Along the Trail

by Alex Brinckerhoff

Tagged as:   ATCA , Arizona , Pima County , Santa Cruz County , Volunteers , equestrian , living history , youth

The author, Alex Brinckerhoff, rides during Tubac's Anza Days 2013

Editor's note: The October 2013 Anza Days in Santa Cruz County saw an impressive 28 men, women, and children join the Anza Expedition Re-Enactment Ride from Tumacácori National Historic Park to the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Museum. This annual ride commemorates the 240 men, women, and children who departed the Tubac Presidio in October 1775 under the command of Juan Bautista de Anza on an overland journey to colonize San Francisco.

Anza Days comes together through the work and resources of these parks, the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona, the ATCA Color Guard, the Tubac Rotary, and many more volunteers and supporters. New in 2013 was a companion Anza Days in Pima County, organized by Dawn Morley of Have Some Fun Tourism Media and the Historic Hacienda de la Canoa. Below is the heartfelt experience of one young rider, Alex Brinckerhoff, during Anza Days 2013:

Having the opportunity to ride on the Anza Trail was a great experience. This past ride I was able to ride with my grandfather, father, aunt, and uncle.


The ride let me experience the true beauty of Arizona, and having my father ride next to me made the ride even more exciting. Being thirteen and living in Arizona my whole life, I have been able to do things that not many others are able to do. Things like the Anza ride. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning to drive down to Tumacácori, then riding horses for several hours is so fun. The feeling of being with family and riding horses with them for four hours is amazing. When you see all the people there as you arrive in Tubac, it is like nothing else.


People always ask how old I am whenever they see me doing the ride. When I say that I am thirteen, they’re shocked. I am always excited to do the Anza ride every time it comes around in October. This past ride was my second time participating, and I have loved every minute of it.


My grandfather rode in Tubac’s first Anza re-enactment ride back in 1978. My grandfather wore a cuera, which is leather armor. For Christmas I was given that cuera, and I wore it in the ride. When my grandfather saw me wearing it, he was stunned. I knew how he felt just from the look in his eyes.


For the first time my dad rode in the ride. He enjoyed the ride just as much if not more than I did. My aunt rode with us as well. She rode with my grandfather back in the 1970s. My uncle rode with us as well. He had never done the ride before, but when it was all over, he said he had a great time. Having the family there to experience something that I had experienced only once before made the ride even better.


Passing houses and desert showed the difference between man-made objects and nature. I love the ability to get on a horse and walk through the Arizona desert and realize all the green that we have. It’s not rainforest green, but it’s pale green. A green that only deserts have. The desert is has a beauty that is like no other. It has its dangers, but so do other places. The Anza ride lets me experience that beauty. So does family.


Being thirteen and waking up at 4:30 in the morning does not make me very happy, but knowing what I am going to do makes me forget about waking up that early. Getting dressed in period accurate clothing and then driving down to Tumacácori isn’t very fun, but seeing and getting on the horses is. Driving an hour down to Tumacácori and seeing all the looks that people give is always very fun. People don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going. You don’t feel as odd once you see everybody else wearing almost the same thing you are.


My love for history and learning about historical events has brought me to do the Anza ride. It started off with volunteering down at the Tucson Presidio. I was asked to do the ride back in 2012. I loved it and was asked to do the ride again. I did the ride again and that’s when my father, aunt and uncle, and grandfather did it. When you wake up really early, shower, dress up in 18th century period clothing, drive an hour, and then ride horses for four hours truly is a lot of fun. I have loved what I have been able to do and thank the people who have given me the opportunity. My thanks go out to those people. I have done things that few others have been able to do, and I am truly thankful.


October is always exciting. Halloween is one contributing factor, but there is also the Anza ride. There is nothing like it. My first participating was in 2012. I was nervous not knowing what was going to happen. I had also not ridden a horse since I was four years old. I was not alone though. Another guy who was asked to participate had never been on a horse. I guess I wasn’t as nervous as he was.


I have always loved horses. My aunt had several at her house and they have always fascinated me. When I rode them when I was younger, I loved them, animals that could make me taller and move faster. Getting to ride them again is an amazing feeling. Seeing so many of them in a long line. Riding two by two and arriving in Tubac. That’s when all the looks disappear. Going to eat at a restaurant when you’re exhausted and hungry is always fun. Filling your stomach with food after not having a real meal since five in the morning. These are experiences that I will never forget. Every year I don’t know what horse I am going to have, who is going to be there, or what I will see, but it’s always a pleasant surprise. Doing the ride is always fun. Every time I do it I laugh and smile. Having family there makes the smiles bigger and gives me more reasons to laugh.


The 2013 Anza ride was a great one, and I look forward to next year’s ride. It is an experience that I will never forget, and I hope it continues when I have children and grandchildren. I hope that they will share my love of history and want to participate with me, just as I did with my father and grandfather. The opportunities that I have had and the people that I have met make me know for a fact that I am on the right track for my life.


People who have known me for less than two years tell me to continue what I am doing. They support me in my reenacting. Strangers say to continue on the path that I am going. These are the ones who I know are trustworthy people. I will not stop learning about southwestern history. My grandfather learned about and wrote books about the southwest. My dad knows so much about history in general. I want to continue learning and continue reenacting. It is what I enjoy doing and I will continue until I can do it no longer. People support me and I thank them for that. I appreciate everything they do for. Especially my father and grandfather who have supported all that I do. I love doing the Anza ride and will definitely continue in future years. 



The author, Alex Brinckerhoff, rides during Tubac's Anza Days 2013

The ATCA Color Guard and volunteer riders re-enact the departure from Arizona in 1775 of the Anza Expedition that colonized San Francisco.

Anza Trail Ranger Al Watson and ATCA State VP for Interpretation Don Kucera at Anza Days in Tubac, October 18, 2013

The Tubac Rotary hosted a September BBQ fundraiser to support the horses for Anza Days 2013
Photo credit: Regina Ford, Green Valley News (all rights reserved)

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