John A. Duerk

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My plan to hike more has turned into a monthly routine with four consecutive visits to Prison Hill Recreation Area, which is several miles from our cottage.  It’s the perfect place to go as you wait for the snow to melt that’s higher up in the Sierras.  Last Saturday, I set a new personal record of 11.4 miles in 6 hours.  That included multiple stops to look for rattlesnakes (unfortunately, I didn’t… Read More

Hiking is a restorative exercise.  You disconnect from society and reconnect with nature and yourself.  I meant what I said when I told people that I would do more of it once I relocated to this part of the country.  Last year, I made time to explore a couple of different trails in the Sierras.  This year, I pushed the total number to seven, including a visit to a lesser known national… Read More

To some, spending money in a store is akin to casting a ballot in an election.  While this is an imperfect analogy, I’ve come to appreciate it.  Undoubtedly, we send companies a message every time we open our wallets to them in the marketplace.  We monetarily reinforce the multiple components of their business model – from where they operate and their modes of production to who they employ and the quality of… Read More

One of the many benefits of living in Carson City is that we’re situated just immediately to the east of the Sierra Nevada, which means that we’re living a short distance from a handful of trails that beg to be hiked.  Earlier today, I ventured into the foothills that you can see from my driveway.  They’re so close that I like to think of them as my side yard.  While the map… Read More

“So, as the walls close in…regress or overcome…” —Good Riddance In need of a late summer distraction as the next academic year approaches, I planned a solo road trip to explore eastern Nevada.  While I love my career and always look forward to meeting new students, there’s a certain melancholy that accompanies the end of break as you’re staring down an impending wave of emails, presentations, discussions, assignments, and meetings.  I always… Read More

Inexplicably, I’m drawn to the terrain in Kit Carson Country, which is about a hour southwest of Carson City across the state line in California.  So, I chose to explore Thunder Mountain on the edge of the backcountry.  The trail is 8.4 miles round trip, i.e. out and back, with 1775 feet of elevation gain.  It begins in a quiet forest and then ascends above the fir and pine trees to a… Read More

How do I like to decompress from two busy quarters of writing presentation slides and reading numerous excepts for my classes at the college?  Drive down to Las Vegas to meet up with my friend Joelle and then hike in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (click here to see the Visitor Guide and here for a video).  This year I’m looking to push myself with more outdoor activity.  So, Turtlehead Mountain… Read More

I’ve been living on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe for over four months now and my life has changed in certain ways.  Yes, I’ve become a Subaru Forester-driving, Patagonia hoody-wearing, mountain and forest-loving Californian.  No apologies.  The choice to move here easily makes it onto the shortlist of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life to date.  This is where I’d like to stay for the rest of my… Read More

Four years.  That’s how long I’ve been in Houston.  I have to be honest, this place never made the list of cities that I wanted to live in when I considered leaving the Midwest.  Most of the people I meet here are from somewhere else and everyone who’s from somewhere else moved here for a job opportunity.  Now, Houston is rather large by way of geography and population.  I have a Houston… Read More

It has been a long five years.  Too much has happened.  If I think about all of the changes and disappointments, I start to feel dizzy.  If I think too much, the stress manifests in my head, chest, and abdomen.  It gnaws at my insides as the tension grows.  There are fleeting moments where everything comes into focus and I feel more at peace, however those feelings have yet to fully coalesce. … Read More

Earlier today, I hiked over seven miles on a series of trails at Huntsville State Park.  Rays of sun pierced the tree branches to illuminate the forest.  Leaves rustled in the strong breeze to produce a soothing, white noise.  The solitude that I found during my visit provided the time I needed to disengage thoughts that often cause me distress.  While standing all alone on a path composed of sand and pine… Read More