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Tis_the_season for new beginnings. A year ago, we were riding the Alaskan Range.  Now, we are building a home at 1534 1st Ave South in Fargo. We volunteered and took part in the wall-raising ceremony last week.  We pounded nails, secured wall supports, and used muscles that bicycle saddles and tractor seats don’t train.

To see and feel a structure that you and so many others have invested in is really special. To know its impact is even more magical.

The build site, 1534 1st Ave S

Window and door frames.

Pounding away.

Hammer time.

Double hammer time.

Carpenter belt.

Picnic table assembly.

Basement work.

Foundations.

Keep on building.

Bro 1

Bro 2

Bro 3

Hula Girl 1 (of many. Too many to photograph, really.)

“It’s five ‘o clock somewhere.”

Thee wall Dewalt.

The crew, sitting on the newly finished picnic table.

Enter the wall-raising ceremony, complete with new Bound South shirts!

Grandma and Grandpa ventured out to see the action.

Interview time.

Fruition

Missing_the_open_roads between Alaska and Argentina is easy at this point.  Since returning home we’ve been working on our family farm in North Dakota, praying for rain and driving tractors as we fly through the growing season.  The steady rhythm of farming, the planting and growth that leads so inevitably to harvest, is a life apart from the wild unpredictability of a day by bicycle.  One is rooted, the other nomadic.  For a summer, at least after so many months on the road, rooted is a good thing.

The central idea of Bound South was that we could not only seek stories, self-transformation, adventure, and brotherhood, but also contribute to a good cause.  That idea is coming to fruition this August as we begin building a house we have co-sponsored with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity.  That all of those many miles and faces of the Americas would lead to a physical home for a family in need is truly humbling and inspiring.  We are so proud and thankful for the good that will be done through the generosity of so many family and friends.

Within the next couple of months, this chapter of our lives will truly come to a close.  David will travel to New Hampshire for college, Nathan will leave the farm to begin his own career, and I will begin training at the United States Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School in Virginia.  The three of us will probably never experience this kind of an opportunity again, with all of us together, in the same place, chasing the same dream.  It was a beautiful thing to share as brothers, and it will be equally beautiful to recall and recount in the years to come.  We’re going to make for some mighty fun uncles someday.

For now we content ourselves with super fast rides on our skinny-tired road bicycles, reminiscing about all of the crazy stories from our journey, and continuing our work with Habitat and our forthcoming e-book.  Thank you for following us, and in doing so, becoming part of this story that is Bound South.  It is a blessing to see these dreams come to fruition.

Dad and Isaiah showing off some teamwork while on vacation. They made the shot.

Walleye fishing on the Lake of the Woods in northeastern Minnesota and southwestern Ontario.

The day’s catch.

Family photo

Waves of grain

Canola in bloom

Lightweight steel and carbon bikes, check. Honda Big Red to get us to pavement, check. Game faces, check. – We really like our road bikes.

July project: new shingles

Job done.

Ripened waves of grain.

The harvest crew.

Event 1 of the Berg Family Farm Olympics: the 800 meter combine dash.

 

Barley, barley chaff, and more barley chaff (this stuff isn’t fun).

Nathan and his workhorse

Dad and Jamie (a friend from Fargo who is working with us) were a part of the trucking crew. 

Mom’s flowerbed

Familiar roads.

 

 

Familiar Roads

Hard to believe we’re home.  After nine months and 15,000 miles between Alaska and Argentina, the three of us have reunited with family and friends in North Dakota.  Daily showers, home-cooked food, fast cars, and comfy clothes are just a few of the wonders of life that we are growing re-accustomed to.  Meanwhile, the inevitable question lingers over us: “What’s next?”  We have been sharing our story with local media and we are so thankful for the outpouring of support that we have received since stepping off the airplane from Buenos Aires.  To be honest, we’re all a little worn out and looking for a few days of time off with family.  Our sister’s graduation day was a special time for us to be home.

In time, we’ll announce our plans to tour the state of North Dakota and Minnesota by bicycle.  We have many speeches and presentations about our 15,000 mile journey to deliver this summer.  David will look forward to college this fall.  Nathan is hopeful for employment in music teaching.  I am preparing for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.  Somehow all this bicycling doesn’t help with pull-ups.

After months of life by bicycle, perhaps the hardest thing about coming home is the speed of an airplane.  We saw landscapes drift by at the steady, measured pace of our Surly Trolls.  We crossed international borders and mountain ranges and deserts in a manner that allowed us to acclimate to the steady changes and regional differences of the Americas.  Our airplane brought us across the same distance in one redeye flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta, and beyond to North Dakota.  Stepping off the plane in Fargo, ND, we couldn’t help but feel like we’d been hastily transported to a foreign country.  We noticed especially the new cars filling the streets and the enormous homes that were so unremarkable to us before traveling abroad.  There is much we’ll never take for granted again, now that we are finished.  We’ve been changed in profound ways by what we have experienced, and we look forward to sharing that with local communities in the months ahead.

Bicycles being packed; the process took us all day in Ushuaia.

New and old friends in Buenos Aires.

Our sister’s pickup came in handy to get Angus, Sam, and Goliath home safely.

Family photo; at this point we still hadn’t showered or changed in days.

The Berg family farm has produced some unbearably cute kittens since we left.

Marta is all grown up now.

Since leaving, our parents have erected what I call “the Marta shrine”.

After graduation day, tragically, Marta’s face is permanently frozen in this posture.

We really, really missed being home.

Kids love the old trampoline in the backyard.

The famous “toppling cake”; a group of men were so busy loading up on pulled pork they didn’t even notice when it fell over.

Vegetables!  Real, fresh, delicious vegetables!

Note the stares of incredulity; this was pulled-pork-sandwich-#5.

Fruit!  Real, fresh, delicious fruit salad!

Did we mention how much we like food?  These are called oreo balls.

We love you Mom.

Flower for Marta.

The Berg family does its part to sustain the greeting card industry.

Rain and cars make for a muddy, messy farmyard.

The End of the World

“We_saw_a_vision of the entire Western Hemisphere rockribbing clear down to Tierra del Fuego and us flying down the curve of the world into other tropics and other worlds. “Man, this will finally take us to IT!” said Dean with definite faith. He tapped my arm. “Just wait and see.” 

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

Tierra del Fuego

The_road_signs keep telling us that Ushuaia is just a few kilometers away.  What does it mean to be this close to where the road ends, where we can go no further south?  The closeness of Ushuaia hasn’t made Tierra del Fuego’s famous winds any easier to combat on bicycle.  For reference, when the wind isn’t in your favor, it is quite easy for a strong cyclist to be humbled by the pace of a gaucho herding some sheep at a horse’s walking pace.  The rough, washboard gravel road that we took more than 100k from Porvenir to our final crossing into Argentina wasn’t made any smoother.  Our excitement and simultaneous bewilderment at how close we are to the end of this long road hasn’t kept our feet and hands warm while riding through wintry mornings.  Ushuaia is where we pack up our bicycles and fly home and say good-bye to this life of tent-camping and stove-cooking and unknown miles by bicycle.  Yet these last days with my brothers and Joe aren’t any more special or significant than the hundreds that came before them.  That first comical day out of Anchorage, struggling to get 100k finished as complete rookies in abundant Alaskan daylight, was no less crucial than the 100k that we covered yesterday and the 100k we’ll ride tomorrow to finish Bound South.  These last days on Tierra del Fuego aren’t special or different, and for that we are thankful.  These last miles are simply more sustenance for this moveable feast we will always know as Bound South.

Boarding the ferry to Tierra del Fuego.

Skewed horizons on the Strait of Magellan 

Our first day on Tierra del Fuego brought us to Concordia, a sheep farm of 7000, where we were welcomed by two gauchos.

They had four extra beds, a roaring stove, coffee and mate, bread and homemade “ruibarbo” jam. We were ecstatic and so thankful to be out of the elements.

We were told the gaucho on the far right is the oldest shepherd in all of Patagonia, having worked for over 80 years!

Patagonian wind.

Three days.

The Atlantic.

Life in the Vast Lane.

To celebrate Joe’s birthday, we biked 110 kilometers through the wind and rain. This is Joe 60 kilometers in.

Our destination that day: La Unión, a bakery in Tolhuin. We sang for our keep here. They housed us, fed us, and treated Joe to this much-deserved slab of cake.

Buen Provecho!

Las Torres

The_wonders_of the world are only made more magnificent when you approach them from the humble perch of a bicycle.  We woke that cold, blustery morning in the horse stable we camped in for the night.  We were surprisingly feted with free breakfast by an amazing luxury hotel with giant portions of succulent lamb, eggs, and bread.  Riding west to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine we encountered the best weather we’ve seen yet in Patagonia.  We did not deserve it and will never forget it.

Nathan, Joe, and Isaiah rolling fast towards the park. That night we camped in a horse barn to escape the rain and cold. No mice this time.

The next day revealed stellar views of Torres del Paine.

And a chance encounter with the staff of the luxury hotel, Tierra Patagonia, and their chef, David.  He hooked us up.

Coffee and tea, scrambled eggs, toast, and these slabs of lamb were his gift to us. We had just had oatmeal, but we couldn’t say no. Our rationale: something we call preventative eating. It was outrageous.

Javier, local rancher and owner of the barn we slept in.

Joe being Joe.

More crisp views of Torres del Paine. 

Laguna Amarga

Thanks for the great photo, Joe.

We came across a group of eagles and an Andean condor feeding on this guanaco.

Sweeping descents and steep climbs matched the sheer nature of the landscape.

It was otherworldly.

And painful at times for Joe, shown here massaging his legs.

An unforgettable day.

A Friend to the End

When_I_decided to hop on my bicycle after high school, I knew that I wasn’t alone.  My best friend, Joe Burgum, also chose what is unconventional and created an experience.  He lived and worked in Australia, traveled to New Zealand, and made a difference.  Now, I am glad to say that his experience has led him here to Patagonia (with warm socks, snacks, and lots of peanut butter), where he will join us for the final leg of our journey.

Joe and I share a lot.  We enjoy playing croquet and cards, organizing and leading events, taking risks, and serving.  We did everything together in high school.  We rallied a community to Fill the Dome, volunteered across the United States with Students Today Leaders Forever, constructed an ice tree for our school, and so much more.  He’s well-spoken, intellectual, courageous, and witty.  He has been someone I have missed dearly on this trip, and someone I am now ecstatic to share it with.  It brings a smile to my face to know that I will be among both brothers and best friend as I ride to the end of the world on Tierra del Fuego.

Joe, writing a few postcards home before riding with us to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

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