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Scott 'Nomad' Berk reflects on past adventures
NORWAY — Owning a restaurant – Café Nomad on Main Street in Norway – is just one small feat on Scott Berk's long list of adventures.
Berk grew up in North Africa, where his father labored extensively in the oil industry after receiving a degree in mining engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
His father's job led to frequent moving, so Berk was committed to living in multiple areas up until his high school graduation – Algeria (two years), Holland (two years), the Kingdom of Norway (eight years), Egypt (nine months), London (five years), and Colorado (one year) – eventually inspiring him, after learning about various cultures, to get out and explore the world on his own.
"Living in multiple places gave me a sense of curiosity to try to understand different cultures and it took away any fear of leaving; it gave me a sense of adventure," said Berk.
Berk attended the Colorado School of Mines for mining engineering, just like his father, and worked as a rock miner in Idaho Springs during the summer of '87. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1990, he decided it was time to follow his childhood dreams.
Berk always wanted to learn to fly. "I have a passion for paragliding. I taught myself how to paraglide way back in the early days," Berk laughed. "I also like to rock climb."
At the age of seven, his uncle showed him how to tie a bowline and belayed him up for his very first climb.
From that moment, Berk developed a lifelong passion for all places wild. After college he became a paragliding instructor for a year, and was such an expert that he was named the first person to fly a non-competition glider from Mt. Zion in Golden, Colorado to North Boulder – a distance of 28 miles.
"I wanted to help people realize their dreams of flight," he said.
Paragliding even taught him something of his own; "I don't like not finishing something," he explained.
He went on to pursue a job with Kajima-Marra Majestic (KMM) as a Quality Control Engineer working on a tunnel in Boston. He was responsible for assuring that the $20 million project was built to the specifications as designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
After several years in New England, Berk returned to Africa, where he and a friend spent five months exploring the continent. "I always wanted to go to East Africa," said Berk.
In Uganda, they worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a government group funding John Hopkins through family planning and AIDS awareness. They worked at rural clinics where Berk claims the locals are "super-friendly, talkative, and very welcoming. They would yell Mzungu! Mzungu!" he explained. "Which means 'white person' in Swahili."
During their African exploration, they also hiked to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,336 feet) and chased mountain gorillas through the jungles of Uganda.
"It was so beautiful and so fascinating. It was a long, five-day hike that covers an amazing variety of ecosystems and environmental changes," described Berk.
Berk has hiked all over the world, including Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest in Australia. Here, he could be seen hitchhiking all over the continent, talking with and meeting new people.
"There is a lot to learn from different cultures, and it's all about getting different perspectives," he said.
Berk was inspired by a group of Australian climbers that he affectionately refers to as "the local climbing bums;" because they literally live out of their cars. Berk then returned to the U.S. to hike all over the country and parts of Western Canada. Berk has done a lot of climbing in the Southwest, including the Grand Canyon, which he says he "absolutely loved."
Berk spent 15 years rock climbing and exploring what nature has to offer, until his life eventually led him back to Boston, where he was hired as a Trial Room Technician on a contract basis. Four to five times a year, Berk goes to trial, where he designs visual presentations for the courtroom, through the output of 200,000 scanned images on a 2D projector, which he explains can be "stressful work."
Berk said that in organizing the presentations he can be pressed for time and there are no excuses if he doesn't finish something.
"I sometimes even have to work 16- to 18-hour days, seven days a week," he said. "It gets tiring."
Somehow amid it all, Berk still manages to keep his life in top gear.
With his recent cycling team, which he named Team Nomad, he has learned one of life's most important lessons: to keep challenging yourself and to keep persevering.
On a 750-mile cycle and hike to raise money for an adopted charity, Trips for Kids (TFK), Berk and his team managed to round up $6,000 in order to provide mountain bike outings to the underprivileged youth in New England – an experience he calls "very inspiring."
Team Nomad first began during another one of Berk's many inspirational adventures; this time during a race in New Zealand. For "lack of experience," according to Berk, the team failed miserably. After all, "the Southern Traverse was not easy to beat," he said.
He also explained that years later, when the team took another shot at the race, they were one of eight teams to actually finish the full, unmarked course, which covers between 400 to 450 km (249-280 miles) of mountainous terrain.
Berk now resides in Norway, still doing the things he loves. Though he also admired the freedom of the "nomadic" life, Norway is where he wants to be and where he intends to stay.
"I've always wanted to own a cafe," he said. "And this is the perfect place for it."
On the intersection of Pikes Hill and Main Street, Berk and lifelong friend and teammate, Grant Sisler, now own the warm and cozy restaurant known as Cafe Nomad. At least five days per week, Berk gets to work between 7 and 9 a.m., busily helping the early birds get their morning dose of coffee and breakfast.
"But I don't do a lot of the cooking," he said. "I am much more into coffee."
Berk also currently serves on boards for the Norway Opera House, the Maine Downtown Center, and Norway Downtown.
"I love this town," he said.
With a warm heart, a big smile, and an even bigger bite of his vegetarian breakfast sandwich, he confirmed, "I am not going anywhere. I feel welcome here."