While waiting for our new home to be built, we’re living in our vacation home on the coast of northern California in a remote village called Shelter Cove. The sound of the ocean brings me a sense of peace and solitude I love. If it’s a clear night you can see the Milky Way. It looks close enough to touch. The town is enveloped by the King’s Range to the north and the Sinkyone Wilderness to the south.

The only paved road to Shelter Cove goes west from Garberville which is on highway 101 over a mountainous road with hairpin curves and drops down the canyons. So, you’re either lost if you travel here, or you really want to be here to vacation or fish. The locals, as we call them, drive the Shelter Cove Road as if there were no tomorrow. I can’t bring myself to tackle those curves like a race car driver. Maybe before we leave in about a month to move into our new home, I’ll drive the winding, dangerous road the same way. (Actually, I hope not.)   For now, we look frantically for a turnout whenever someone rides our tail, so we can pull off and let them pass.

Amenities are few in a town this small. There is a deli, one or two restaurants, pizza take out, coffee shop, a small general store and five motels. Two gas pumps, at very high prices, are at the General Store. We drive to Garberville most of the time to shop for groceries and gas. In one month we’ve driven twice to Eureka to shop at COSTCOTM, which is a two hour trip one way. Medical care is either in Redway, Garberville, Eureka, Arcata or McKinleyville. Oh, dear.

I have to say, the quiet is relaxing and I often feel lazy. My eyes close as I sit in my recliner and I drift off into wonderful dreams about the ocean. We often picnic by the water and watch the sunset if there’s no fog, and take in the calming effect of nature.

Deer, jack rabbits and quail grace Shelter Cove. The deer often stand in the street or on the golf course unafraid of humans or cars. Fawns stay close to their mothers and the baby quails graze for food following their moms’ example. Once in a while a bear is sighted.

Small planes fly in and out on the small runway. No room for large planes. It’s fun to watch them take off or land. The flights are only in good weather and during the day. There are no lights to guide them at night. Yes, we live in a rural place.

While it is peaceful and refreshing, I haven’t decided whether or not I’m a country or city girl. My heritage on my dad’s side is rural. From the age of thirteen to nineteen he and his dad tracked and killed deer, rabbits, squirrel and wolves, both for eating and their pelts, which they shipped to St. Louis. They lived in ranching country in a stone house with a well. Plumbing and electricity did not exist in the house. Entertainment consisted of neighbors getting together for music jam sessions. Coffee and popcorn served as snacks.

The tradition of country living continued with my grandmother’s brother and his wife. They farmed forty acres in southeastern Kansas. My favorite thing to do as a child was to travel from the small town I lived in to their farm. Again, it was as primitive in lifestyle as my Dad’s young life. However, the quiet of the country invaded my soul and peace from the cares of my life went away. The chickens roamed the yard by day and at least two were beheaded by my aunt and uncle for the noon meal of fried chicken. The wood stove fascinated me. Brownies made by my aunt were baked in the oven, which was heated with the wood. I never figured out how she knew what temperature the oven should be. But the baked goods were perfect and delicious.

I have lived in a larger town or city most of my life. The hardships even in this serene village of Shelter Cove don’t compare to that of my relatives. Many retirees live here and delight in maintaining a rural lifestyle.

Our new home is located in a small town, but the drive to a larger city for main shopping is easy, relative to here. I’m looking forward to the tranquility I’ll once again experience, but the question of whether I’m a city or country girl remains to be seen.


  1. Crystal Haslett

    I know what you mean. I like the quiet life of the small town but I so miss the big city I grew up in. For now I’m staying. I may move back into a larger town oh say about 5000 people instead of the 1500 I live in now. Although the wild life is not so brave around here I have to go to the river to see anything. The coyotes singing at night I will not miss.


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