An Alien in Blue Lake

A life long Monterey Bay resident has decided to mobilize her entire life and resettle within the Redwood Curtain. Every year thousands of people uproot their lives and move to Humboldt County. Today, I’m sitting down with one of these migratory folk in Blue Lake, California to discuss what historical routes brought her to reside in this lovely little town. At some point most (including myself) were alien to this magical redwood paradise but something about this place seems to diminish the importance of the past and heighten the joy of the present.

Annete Dani Nunez was born in a hospital in Santa Cruz, California(which is in it’s own county). But soon she was  home to Monterey County where she has lived the entirety of her life; not including the last two months. Growing up in Salinas Annete, who now goes as Dani, lived in a notorious gang environment. When growing up on the east side of Salinas it was “a tough life, you had to be careful, it was like the projects, you know.” This is where she lived until seventh grade and with “not a lot to do” Dani would usually go to Monterey or San Jose to have a good time and avoid gangs. When she moved about thirty miles north to Gilroy in middle school she found it a more pleasant environment. There were fewer gang issues and generally it had better weather.

Unfortunately, the positive venture in Gilroy was short lived. Dani moved out with her twenty-year-old sister at fifteen after finishing her freshman year in high school. Things at home were “no good” and Dani was back in Salinas. Upon return to Salinas, school was not near the top of the Dani’s priority list. Soon after moving, at fifteen, she met the father of her three children.

For two years Dani battled with the education system leaving high school and then leaving continuation high school. Dani and her new love Eric, then twenty-years-old, decided to get emancipated and get married under heavy suggestion from her boyfriend’s religious parents.

In March 1987, at the age of nineteen, Dani gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Shalynn Joanne Jacobsen. “After Shalynn it was every few years,” she had Matthew three years later and Holliane two after that. With Eric earning meager wages working in a fish store, it was most often up to Dani to bring home the bacon. And so the list of employment begins: She has worked as a courier, a house cleaner, a house wife, a caretaker of celebrity animals, a kennel worker, a house painter (interior, exterior and commercial), a Denny’s waitress and finally a Pampered Chef Party Coordinator. As Donna Summers says “She works hard for the money, so hard for it honey.”

As we fast forward to now the kids are all grown up. Dani and Eric divorced in 1997. Shalynn is a licensed cosmetologist working as a stylist in Arcata at Bloom Salon. Matthew is entering the Army at the end of June and Holliane is beginning her cosmetology apprenticeship around the same time. Up until a couple months ago Dani was still in Salinas when Shalynn began to nag her about moving up with her to Humboldt County. Dani agreed and decided it was time, “left it all behind – came up for a breath of fresh air, peace, tranquility and serenity –  and that’s what it is.”

The rescue mission took place on Dani’s birthday. March 4th, 2010, Dani’s daughter and daughter’s boyfriend beamed straight down from northern California to swoop Dani up and move her on out. All agreed that Salinas held nothing more for her and the time for change was now.

Her entire life condensed into a Volkswagen Passat and relocated within the veil of the Redwood Curtain.

First living in McKinleyville for about a month, Dani noted “it’s nice, but not as nice as Blue Lake.”

She found living by the ocean to be an amazing treat but was quickly coerced by the promise of warmer weather just a hop, skip and jump inland.

Now in Blue Lake, Dani says she loves everything about this place. The places to walk, the atmosphere and “the sun up here is completely different!” For the same rent she pays here; in Salinas one could only find a room at lowest end of the rent-ability spectrum. Beautiful Salinas, where “three-fifty will get you a room in a crack house.” She lives in a nice three bedroom Victorian with an enormous back yard near down town Blue Lake.

She lives with her daughter Shalynn right now and is beginning a completely raw diet admitting that “before living here I’d never have thought or known about a raw diet.” She has also decided to quit smoking after 30 years of struggling with addiction. What a change of scenery and sheer curative and positive culture shock Dani has experienced in her journey to little Blue Lake. From the violent streets of Salinas to a town that reminds her “of an old movie, like an old western town.” In Salinas going on a walk is an undesirable undertaking now she is enthused with the walking choices, “you can go for a walk to a bridge, a river, a pond, a water fall or a casino.”

Admittedly, for such a small town, Blue Lake is a happening place. Having just celebrated their one hundred year anniversary, the town is filled with opportunities including all those great walking destinations. With a small population just over a thousand Blue Lake boasts a ton of amenities including: bowling, Del Arte Theater, fishing, hiking, any sports field or court you can think of, community sport and a roller rink just to name a few!

Dani is in Humboldt now for good. Her daughter Holliane is moving up here in a couple of months and things have never been better. I think this is an indicator of the true power of this place. The true power of like-minded individuals co-creating their own reality which is Humboldt County. Behind this Redwood Curtain a hodgepodge of unique alien beings assimilate and congregate to cultivate a better place to live. Welcome, Annete Dani Nunez.


Noah Cannon

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