Saturday, September 29, 2012

DAY 22
(May 15)
Episode 4

I woke up late today with almost no time to eat breakfast.  I did a hurried rune draw and got Hagalaz, hail, the destructive forces of nature.  I thought about it a minute and decided that I would internalize that; I would become the destructive force of nature, I would be the hail, and the hammer.

We got on a bus and rode it to the train station.  After much waiting around we finally got on a really fast (+100 mph) train, and in about ten minutes we were in downtown Oslo.  There was a film crew with us the whole way watching us get on the train, ride the train, and get off the train.

When we got off we took a walk through the city.  I found it to be unique to all other cities I have been in; the mix of old and new architecture was especially interesting to me.  Our walk eventually led us to the royal palace, where Henriette was waiting.

We were divided into teams once again; I was on the red team with Dana, Jessica, Jonathan and Amy.  For our first team challenge we were given 5 clues, the clues were about historical landmarks / sights that could be found in Oslo.  We had to travel by our own means to these five points, and take pictures to prove we were there.  The team that got to the final destination first would win.

We had staggered starts, and were timed separately.  A coin toss determined that the blue team would leave 15 minutes before us.  When it was our turn to leave we took off, and decided to go to the famous sculpture park in Norway where we were supposed to find a furious baby.  We rode the tram there and got information from people about the other clues on the way.

The rest of our journey took us to a famous statue of a glove pointing to where the city of Oslo was to be built, the opera house, another statue of a huge tiger in the middle of the city, the final destination was a balcony off a room of the Grand Hotel, the same balcony where Barack Obama accepted the Nobel peace prize, and a hotel where dignitaries of every stripe have stayed.    When we got there we all stood on that same balcony and waved to the people below on the street…pretty cool.

Then there was more waiting while the results and pictures were tabulated.  Each wrong picture would cost a 30 minute penalty in the total time.  As Henriette was giving us the results we learned that we had gotten all the clues correct, our pictures were all right!  The blue team it turned out had one picture wrong, so they got a 30 minute penalty.  We were EXTREMELY confident at that point because we had moved very quickly and found all the correct places.  Imagine our shock and dismay when it was announced that the blue team had beaten us by 5 minutes!

I was shocked, and even a little angry.  It didn’t make sense!  Then after the results it was explained to me that the difference was the blue team had chosen to take the subway instead of the tram to the sculpture park.  The subway, apparently is a much quicker form of transportation.  We had no idea.  The blue team had gotten lucky at the last minute and a Norwegian on the street advised them to take the subway.  Oh well…sucks for us, we have to play the cards we are dealt.  Tomorrow the blue team will have a slight advantage on the next competition.  Things happen the way they are supposed to…that’s hagalaz.

We are all thinking that tomorrow we may be Russ, we are looking forward to that, but we’ll see.

We found out this evening that we will be staying here for a whole week!  At the swankiest hotel in Norway; the Grand Hotel.  It’s kind of hard to believe.

The Grand Hotel is one of the most beautiful buildings I have been in.  I took some time to notice the intricacies and the art that is all through it, some of it very old, and the architecture is amazing.  The whole city is wonderful though; statues everywhere, old stuff, new stuff, no garbage on the street.  It is glorious, and I am a very lucky guy to be here.  It is now 10:00 in the evening, 2200, and life is good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DAY 21
(May 14)
Day off

This morning I drew berkano.  Got up about 0700, said my Sigdrifa prayer and had frokost.

There is a convention of special needs folks here at the hotel, I enjoy having them around for some reason.  They are the most genuine people in the world.  We could all learn a lesson from them about the sheer joy of being alive.
My plans today are to work on my drinking horn and maybe do some reading.  At 1300 we are all going to a mall.  I am going to look for some glue to glue the heel back onto my boot with.

Thoughts of loved ones, family and home are becoming more prevelant these days, even though there isn’t much time to think.  On these days off is really our only time to do any such thinking.  It’s pretty crazy; last week we did so much stuff, it seems like it was two or three weeks…but it was only one.

Today I have been gone for three weeks, pretty weird…pretty damn weird.  Can’t get caught up in all that though, I need to stay focused and really do my best to win this thing.  Later today I am going to do a three rune draw to check the course I am on.

Of the 10 contestants remaining I have a clear vision of who the top and bottom 5 are, but I can’t take anything for granted.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Not all the contests are physical, and all of them are not mental, the production does a great job of minimizing obvious advantages, especially in the elimination rounds.  I think what it really comes down to is mental toughness; who is best able to purge their brain of everything that is not necessary in order to focus on the task at hand.  I am usually pretty good at that…we’ll see.

The Gods have been faithful; Freya, Thor, Tyr, Freyr, Njord, and even Odin have been experienced and felt by me on this journey, as have the ancestors.  I am a blessed man in many ways.

Tomorrow we leave for the City of Oslo at 0845.  We will get on a train, that is where the filming will begin.  When we arrive we will find out about the first team challenge, it should be a very interesting week.  Episode 4, here we come!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

DAY 19
(May 12)
Episode 3

Today is the elimination competition.  Either Dana, Tara. Mary Caryl, Jessica, or C.J. will be leaving us.  I am safe this time because my team won the fish processing competition in Rennesøy yesterday.  It is definitely a good feeling to be safe.  I drew sowilo this morning, the sun, success, a very good rune.

My team didn’t have a lot to do today, we didn’t have to meet until 1300 for lunch.  I bought some sandpaper and worked on my drinking horn a little.  Then we gathered again at 1500, mama Christina told us what the red team was doing for their competition.

This week was all about Norwegian exports; oil, fish, and also…Black Metal music.  Yep, the red team was going to dress up like black metal artist and perform in front of an audience, this should be very interesting.  They had to write their own lyrics and perform with actual famous black metal musicians in front of a live crowd.  All of this was done under the tutelage of “King”, or “King ov Hell” as he was also called, his real name is Tom Cato.  He was the base guitarist for Gorgorath and several other famous bands.  The other musicians were also world renown black metal artists.

They took us to an old factory of some kind that had been converted into a really cool venue.  We waited around for quite a bit while the audience was getting situated, finally we were allowed to join the audience, near the stage.  It was dark, there were black lights and smoke.  Then Henriette, also in black metal garb introduced the red team one by one as they came out and performed their song.  I thought they all did pretty well, and no doubt they all did the best they could, but I definitely thought Dana and Jessica had an edge.  I was most worried about C.J. and Mary Caryl…who finished her performance by doing the splits.  In the end, I had called it pretty accurately; Mary Caryl was the one that got the least votes from the audience.  She seemed to take it pretty well.  We all said our good-bye’s and she was led away, back to America. 

Afterwards we were all having a beer, then Henriette came out to give the Norwegian Spirit Award.  This time, it went to Jessica. 

Later that evening the cast, entire crew, and the black metal artists had a wonderful dinner on the 21st floor of the crew’s hotel over a spectacular view of Stavanger.  We were all there to watch the Gullruten awards on a huge TV, it’s kind of like the emmy awards or something, anyway, Alt for Norge had been nominated for best reality show with a competition for season 2, they had already won it last year for season 1.

During dinner Tom, the King ov Hell kept calling me over to their table, it seemed like he wanted to get to know me.  Eventually I got a chair and sat at their table where I had good conversation with him and the other band members.

Alt for Norge won the award and everyone celebrated; they let us have three units of alcohol instead of just the usual one.  Then Brita told us it was time to go, and the band told us not to leave.  We had to leave though, so the band left with us and got on our bus and rode back to our hotel.  It was already late, about 2330, but the Lords of black metal wanted to find a bar and have drinks with us…us!  That just doesn’t happen everyday so myself, Todd, Dana, Austin, C.J., and Tara went walking out down the streets of Stavanger with them to find a bar.

We went to one of those places where there is a big line of people trying to get in past the big bouncer door guy.  Tom went up and talked to him for a minute, the next thing I knew we were all getting waved in past all the waiting people, made me feel kind of famous for a minute.

It wasn’t really my scene; it was extremely crowded, the music was very loud.  We wound up sitting in a V.I.P. balcony overlooking the dance floor.  I didn’t drink that night.  They offered me drinks, but it was a strange atmosphere and I felt kind of responsible for my fellow contestants that were drinking, I wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to them so I just watched.  I watched them, and kept track of where they were in the crowd, I also watched the band closely.  I had never met black metal artists before and I was trying to understand them.

Every time my eyes met Toms he would toast me and shake my hand. At one point he leaned in and told me he liked me the best, because even though he was an atheist, I wore his heritage on my arm and around my neck.  He said to contact him on facebook when I got home, I said ok.

We had to get up early; 0515, it was already 0200 so Todd and I decided to go home.  Austin and C.J. had already left, Dana and Tara had left together.  We said good-bye and found our way back to the hotel.  It had been a long day.  Man…what a week!  What an adventure!  What a life!

DAY 20
(May 13)
Travel day

Today we woke up very early and very tired.  Completely missed breakfast.  Got on a bus that took us to the airport to fly back to our home base near Oslo.  I drew jera this morning.  Barbara had bought some yarn and made the cutest little Alf beards for everyone to wear, it was really pretty cool and thought it was sweet of her to go through that trouble.

We had pizza for dinner tonight, a nice treat.  Tomorrow is a day off.  Today is Sunday, Tuesday we will begin fiming episode 4 in the city of Oslo where we have not been allowed to go yet.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

DAY 18
Episode 3

I will leave at 10:45 this morning to go somewhere where there is relevant information about my family, I am very excited.  I drew jera this morning, a perfect rune; jera means year, or harvest, the cycles of life.  Today is the harvest of what I have sown, today is the manifestation of a cycle, a returning.  Today is the epitome of jera.

In explaining my desire to return to where my family is from I have often used the analogy of the salmon.  The salmon is born and lives for a time in the river where it was spawned, then it goes out to the big wide sea where it will live for several years.  Ultimately though, one day the salmon is compelled by some internal clock to return, to return to the exact same stream where it was born, to spawn itself and die, thereby completing the cycle.  Today I am the salmon.  I don’t know what awaits me…but I am ready.

We had about an hour to drive, I was in the front passenger seat and Odd, the camera man was driving.  In the back seat were Eli the director, Stian the sound guy, and of course Henriette.  I am very fond of Odd and Stian, they are both great guys.  Eli was the director at my home town shoot so I was familiar with her, and I had got to know Henriette pretty well, I was very happy with the crew I had on this very important day.

As we drove further the landscape began to change subtly; it became more rural, there were more farms, more rock fences, more livestock, and the backdrop for it all was gently rolling emerald green pastures, it was very beautiful.

As we were driving along we passed a sign, I wasn’t looking directly at it, but enough for my peripheral vision to catch a familiar word; a word I had seen a million times before.  I wasn’t certain, but I was pretty sure it was my last name on that sign.  I shouted, “Hey!  What did that sign say?”, No one said anything, they all just sort of giggled.  Just a little further down the road there was another sign, a directional sign, it said “1 HERIGSTAD” and pointed to the right.  When I saw it my heart skipped a beat, my breath halted, I just starred at it in disbelief.  You see for my whole life my last name has been unusual where I come from, it is very uncommon, most of my teachers had a hard time pronouncing it…and there it was on a road sign; it was an amazing thing for me.

Up ahead there were a series of building; houses and barns on the left and right, we parked on the left.  Odd and Eli got out and walked around while we waited in the car.  Eventually they came back, I got out and we filmed the scene where Henriette introduces me to the area and gives me the envelope.  While that was happening an old Norwegian guy walks up and starts raising hell with the crew because we parked on his property without his permission.  They all exchanged words and eventually that situation was cleared up.  I took a moment and asked the Gods and ancestors to accompany me on what I was about to experience, and two ravens appeared, I was happy to see them.

Turns out, my family farm was on the right, beautiful white buildings with shiny black tile roofs and trim, and a huge barn…my heart started beating faster; this was my kind of place and I was so anxious to learn more.

I was told that this was my ancestral family farm.  I couldn’t believe it was still there, and in such good shape!  The place was called Herigstad Gård, which means Herigstad farm.  The people who lived there were gone and they told me I was free to explore the property.

As I approached the driveway I saw two mailboxes.  I walked closer and read the names; their name was Berge; the same family name as the 8 siblings who I have a picture of, my great grandmother Lisa Gurine’s people.  Could it be that I am still related to the people who actually live here? As I pondered that question it began to really sink in that it was possible.  It seemed too great a thing to experience, or even hope for.  I questioned Eli about it and she confirmed that the people who lived there were in fact my relatives.  At that moment the whole experience took on an even deeper, greater meaning for me.  I really had come home, back to the stream of my origin.  Wow!

I started exploring the whole place then; I looked in a basement window and saw many deer skulls, boar tusks, and a stuffed pheasant.  I was struck by the fact that I could have easily been looking into the room of my own house, because I also have a fascination with bones and taxidermy.  There was also a building that seemed to have a collection of old cars, then another place where there was some construction equipment, there was fire wood being chopped…man, this was like taking a tour of a place I was living at, and it all seemed so familiar.

Brenda had given me some collection baggies, I had one with me and decided to gather some dirt.  I went to the middle of a large plowed field.  I figured it must have always been a field, a field where my ancestors worked, sweat, and bled.  It was dirt they had used to sustain their families.  I took the dirt from there.

After I collected the dirt I looked down and saw a familiar thing; a robin egg shell.  We have lots of robins at home, but I couldn’t remember seeing a robin since being in Norway, yet, there on the ground was a robin egg shell.  It might sound silly, but it made me feel as though the universe was welcoming me home with a familiar object.

After I had checked out the house and barn they took me deeper into the property.  There we found a glorious outdoor recreation area affectionately called “Høne Hauen” or “Hens Hill”.  It was the coolest ever wooden structure, newly built, with a sod roof.  Great chunks of granite were used for the supports as well as the benches and table.  There were fire pits, and a wood fire hot tub, the name of the place was carved in a stone along with a picture of four eggs which sat behind three little hens. It was so, so, awesome!  I took tons of pictures because I plan to duplicate this structure when I go home. 

I sat down for a minute to take it all in and just sort of gather myself.  It occurred to me then just how much I felt completely at home and at peace on this land.  It felt as though I had always been there, even the horizon looked familiar to me as though I had gazed at it hundreds of times before.  Then I felt a little sad, because I knew I would have to leave this place…when I felt instead that I should just be going up to the house for dinner.  It was a remarkable sensation that I have never experienced before in life. Honestly, I believe I had been there before, in another life.  So strong were my feelings there that I cannot be convinced otherwise.

Finally I was allowed to open the envelope and read the letter.  It explained the hard times the people had around the turn of the century and why they had left.  My great, great grandfather Reier Rasmussen Herigstad and his wife Ingeborg had 13 children, only 8 of whom survived to adulthood, one of those had been my Great Grandfather Ingebret Reierson Herigstad, who came to America when he was 18.  It was all a bit overwhelming.  There were some pictures, a few I had seen before, but there was a picture of Reier Rasmussen Herigstad’s mother; my great, great, great grandmother.  Wow, what a haunting picture; what deep soulful eyes.  Her hands were gnarled and scarred from years of hard work, but her eyes were loving and kind, I looked at it for a long time.  She had lived where I was sitting, on this same land her entire life, her name was Berte. 
Oh my gosh…I had really made it back.  I have completed the circuit, I had come home, I have found my stream.  Words cannot express how it felt.

There were so many things at this property that reminded me of me; the farming lifestyle, the skulls, the love of outdoor recreation and family, the fact that two families live here (at home we have four families on one property), they seemed like capable, competent people who knew how to build things.  I loved it there and I did not want to leave, but, I had to.  I will be back one day though. 

It was also nice for me to know that the families who lived there knew I was there that day.  That means they knew of me, maybe even knew my name.  In knowing of me they have to know that I have family too who are also related to them.  Just like that, in the blink of an eye, two families who knew nothing of each other suddenly increased with the knowledge that they are really all part of one family.  It was a beautiful day that will be with me forever, this one day has made the entire journey worthwhile.

Friday, September 21, 2012

DAYS 15, 16, 17
DAY 15
(May 8)
Episode 3

This morning I drew Hagalaz; the pattern of all things.  I will meditate on hagalaz during the flight.  It is the mother rune, and it offers protection and growth, the kind that usually comes after destruction, a necessary rune, the magic number nine.

I am on the plane now, we just left Oslo and they told us we are going to Stavanger.  When they told me that I involuntarily giggled like a small child, I couldn’t help it.  Stavanger is one place that I have wanted to go to since I was a small boy.  It is the area that all my people are from, it is the port where they all left from to come to America.  I have been hearing the name Stavanger for as long as I can remember…and now I am going there.  I no doubt am still related to people in that area, and very soon I will be breathing the same air as them.  I can’t honestly remember when I have been this excited, perhaps when my children were born?  It is all a bit emotionally overwhelming and I hope very much that I will be able to keep it together. 

I don’t cry from physical pain, I never have.  I only cry when I am very happy, or when my heart is touched in a certain way.  I become full of emotion and I overflow, the tears are just the extra emotion leaving my body because it is full.  Not everyone understands that, but it doesn’t matter…because I do.

I can’t help but wonder if they might take me for a special day to my ancestral family farm while we are in Stavanger.  I am a little afraid to wonder about it though, it makes me nervous, because what if I get my heart set on it and then it never happens?  I just won’t think about it too much, I will remain steady and focused on the tasks before me.  That is my plan.

DAY 16
(May 9)
Episode 3

I had to wake up very early this morning, leaving at 0730, getting on a helicopter to go out to an oil rig.  No time to write today, it’s going to be very busy…I drew nauthiz, the need fire.

DAY 17
(May 10)
Episode 3

This morning I drew gebo, the gift.  I have a lot of catching up to do in this journal.  Yesterday…well, it was simply amazing!  We were on an oil drilling rig called the Trans Ocean Barents, 200 km out in the sea off the coast of Stavanger.  We flew a huge chopper out to it, the flight took about 45 minutes.  Sometimes I really wonder if I am in a coma somewhere and these are just my crazy dreams.

The rig is the biggest and newest in the world.  A drilling rig.  I would love to work on it; 2 weeks on and 4 weeks off, and you make tons of money!!  You can’t beat that deal with a stick.  I got to have some good conversations with the captain Arild at dinner, really nice guy.

The team competition yesterday was pretty intense.  One team had to pump 16 buckets of oil out of a drum while the other team scraped kroners out of a big vat of drilling mud as deep as my arm.  Then the teams switch, the team that collects the most money wins.

We did really well, my team fought very hard.  I was on the blue team this week with Austin, Amy, Jonathan, and Barbara.  Even though we did really well, we lost by only 13 kroners.  13 kroners out of a possible 3000, that is insanely close.  We were pretty bummed about it, but when you know you have done your best you can’t be too sad just because you lose, because you know you could not have done more.  I felt very confident even though we lost, so did Austin, we spent time trying to encourage the others.  All they really gained was a slight advantage in the next competition…they had really won anything yet.

Also yesterday, before the competition, I read Clintons letter, of course they wanted to film it.  It was a great letter, I was pretty proud of myself that I was able to read the whole thing without getting so choked up I couldn’t speak.  I only cried a little.  He sent me a tiwaz charm for victory and it obviously worked today.  He also sent me pictures of little Solveig, the letter was heartfelt, and very inspiring.  He is a good man my son, and I love him very, very much.  I let several other people read the letter as well.Today we got on a bus and went to the Island of Bru in Rennesøy.  The theme this week is Norwegian exports, hence the oil experience.  We arrived at a fish processing company, last year Norway exported something like 400,000 tons of salmon.  The red team had a 10 second advantage from winning yesterday.

As a team we had to pull 8 live fish out of a big vat using only our hands.  Then we had to run them over to a table, bash them on the head, cut their gills and let them bleed for three minutes, then gut them, put them in boxes and load them on a truck before the other team, piece of cake!

We wound up with 9 fish instead of 8 somehow, but that was ok.  We figured the team that got all 8 fish in the bleed out tank first would win…I was very surprised that the red team finished that 45 seconds ahead of us.

We made the time up cleaning gutting, and packing like champs!  I gutted four fish myself.  All of a sudden Austin was running our last box of fish to the truck…it looked like we won, but it was confusing.  Then the red team brought their box up like 10 seconds after us and Henriette announced that they had won…what??  Then the camera cut, and it was determined that we had in fact won!!  We just had to re-film that last part.  I felt bad for the other team then, it’s tough to think you won and then have it yanked away, but I was happy for us.

I am so, so, so happy we won today.  Tyr prevailed!  It means I will for sure be here for 17 Mai, and possibly the russ.  It means I am that much closer to meeting my relatives. Gebo, or the spirit of gebo was alive and well on our team today; we all contributed, and we all received.

Gebo just keeps on giving; tonight after dinner Brita announced that tomorrow I would be taken to a “nice” place.  That was her way of saying that I was going somewhere significant, something connected to my family.  Wow, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

When we first came to Stavanger I had wondered if something like this would happen…but three days went by and no one said anything, I had given up, I figured they had found no trace of my family…they got me pretty good.  I am so happy.  Tomorrow will be one of those days; one of those days that you think back on years later to make yourself feel good, one of those days that my grandchildren will probably get sick of hearing about.  Yep, one of those days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DAYS 13, 14
(May 6, 7)
Episode 2

DAY 13

The Hytte is cool this morning, but we will not start a fire.  Instead we will get dressed, eat, and leave this place, to the elimination competition.

I drew thurisaz this morning, extremely appropriate since I am in Jotunheim, and I am safe.  Thor is indeed with me, watching out for me, along with Freya, Freyr, and Tyr.  Hail the Gods of my ancestors!

DAY 14

Yesterday was pretty brutal emotionally.  Even though we contestants have only known each other for 14 days, we have become very close.  Partly I think because we are all genuine, all good people.  Partly because of an interesting dynamic that occurs when people are thrust into a common, isolated situation together.  I experienced this one other time when I was a new soldier in basic training, that was 32 years ago, but I still remember the names of those other men I served with, I can still see their faces, and if I ran into one of them on the street I would do anything for them.  A similar dynamic occurs among hostages, or extreme tragedy survivors, it’s very interesting.  And that is what had happened to us on Alt for Norge, at least to some degree.

The challenge was announced.  The five people would go into a room filled with objects for 8 minutes.  Then, they would be taken to another room where there would be a board full of pictures; some of which would be pictures of things that were in the room, some however would not.  The objects were all Norwegian in nature. 

In turn, based on the order that they left the first room they would select pictures.  Henriette would turn over their selection and if there was a green dot that meant they were correct and earned one point.  If the dot was red then they were wrong and earned no point.  As people earned three points they would be safe, the last person to not earn three point would have to leave Alt for Norge.  It was pretty tricky, some of the objects were very similar, but not the same.  In the room was a picture of the Norwegian royal couple, on the board a picture of the Swedish royal couple, a person had to pay very close attention.

The contest began.  C.J. didn’t miss any, and he was the first one safe, then Dana, then Jessica.  Now it was down to Barbara and Stephanie; Barbara had two points, and Stephanie had one.

We were all on the edge of our seats, even though we were standing.  They were both here for the right reasons, they both contributed and added something special to our group.  Being the first one to leave I think is extra hard.  It was kind of like watching two friends get a root canal with no anesthesia.  Ultimately, Stephanie lost.

I got choked up some during the whole goodbye process.  Not because I myself was that sad, after all…nobody died, it is a competition and someone has to lose.  I got choked up because there was so much sadness around me, and I felt bad for Stephanie being the first one to go.  Stephanie is really cool, I like her a lot.  We had some good talks; she was bullied as a child like I was, and like me, she prevailed.  She is strong for her age and she has a fun personality.  She will be missed among us.

This morning I drew perthro, the lot cup, appropriate since we are rolling the dice and starting a new episode somewhere that remains a mystery.  Also interesting; perthro is number 14, 1+4 =5, which is raidho, the wagon…and today is a travel day.

We just found out that tomorrow we are getting on a plane.  It is very strange to get on a plane and have no idea where you are going…extremely interesting though.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

DAY 12
(May 5)
Episode 2

 The day started with the crew in our Hytte “waking us up”.  I drew tiwaz, a very good sign for the day; justice, victory, courage.

There was a lot of sitting around waiting today, but it wasn’t too bad because there were some intense snow storms off and on, I am easily entertained by such things, so I spent a lot of time just looking out the window.

The rest of my team had to be filmed having a conversation without me about the upcoming individual competition.  The producers didn’t want me in on it because I had immunity.  There is a sad fog that has rolled in; everyone knows someone is leaving, nobody knows who.  After the group conversation then they filmed individual interviews with everybody, asking us how we felt about the elimination etc.

They also filmed the blue team making dinner for everyone.  We had fish balls and reindeer stew.  The fishballs were fried, but they reminded me a lot of fish pudding.  For any Americans reading this…no, they were NOT fish testicles.

Amy and Austin were both taken away to places where their families are from.  When they came back they both had great emotional stories about what they had experienced.  Austin said that he completely broke down, it was nice to see that emotion in him.  I was very happy for both of them and it made me hope so much that I will get a similar opportunity while I am in Norway.

After dinner we played cards for a bit.  The pressure of tomorrow is just too much for Stephanie and Jessica; they started crying and just went to bed.  It is good to be safe, but I feel bad for them.  C.J. is visibly upset as well, but Dana is taking it in stride, confidently, at least on the surface.

Today, the people of my kindred, Hawk’s Hearth are gathered to celebrate May Day and honor Freya at the home of my friend Bart Lewis.  At 12 noon sharp they will begin the invocation led by Gythia Brenda Bright, it also happens to be our two year anniversary.  Brenda will be reading an invocation that we wrote together, at exactly the same time here in Norway I will read the same invocation as I face the direction of home.  The Kindred will all be facing Norway.  It will be 2100 here, and 1200 back home.

I explained what I was doing to my fellow contestants, all the cameras were gone, it was just us.  To my delight they all decided to join me, so right before 2100 (9 pm), we went out into the snow that had begun to fall, we faced my homeland, and they all listened while I recited the invocation to Freya, at the exact same time Brenda was saying the same words thousands of miles away under a sunny sky.  When I finished all the other cast members repeated three loud “Hail Freya’s”.  It was quite beautiful and I was touched by their acceptance of my ways, I also felt like Freya was well pleased.

I’m proud of Brenda.  I thought a lot about her today.  I also thought of my dog Adrienne who is quite elderly, and the rest of my family, just wondering how everyone is doing.  I also thought a lot about the kindred and just hope that everything is ok.  It is odd being so completely removed from everything that is familiar to you.

Tonight is the last night we will stay in our Hytte (pronounced hit-ta).  Tomorrow we go to the ski hotel, which is where the challenge will take place, and where we will sleep tomorrow.   We have no idea what the challenge will be, it is impossible to predict who might be leaving, whoever it is, their soul will be missed among us.  Then Monday it is back to our home base hotel near Oslo.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A poem I wrote, to break of the monotony of the journal, hope you like it.

A Vikings Homecoming


Our boat is full of loot and riches

As we sail homeward through the Fjord.

Starboard yeah and port, it pitches,

Soon we’ll savor our reward.


Many battles won on this campaign,

My sword is badly in need of grinding.

Many good men were lost in vane,

Valhalla now, those souls are finding.


My good friend Halgren is among the dead,

True and straight a man, was he.

His widow Gurine will mourn with dread,

To the Valkryie now is he.


Onward longship, straight and steady,

bring us to our family fire.

blow harder wind, for I am ready,

To taste again of  womans desire.


Songs of valor, songs of praise,

Do await us at the fire.

Then on the morrow, we will stand and gaze,

at brave dead Halgrens funeral pyre.


In the distance there I see the glow,

twelve big fires burning.

The smell of mutton on the coals,

to greet us at our returning.



DAY 11
(May 4)
Episode 2

Today I drew Ingwaz, a very personal rune for me; Freyr, the brother of Freya. I have a strong connection with the Vanic powers. We found out we will definitely be skiing, more on that a bit later.

Yesterday we saw the most beautiful country; we left Lom and went up to the mountains, to Jotunheim, to Isa.

Our first challenge was to pack for a hyytetur.  We had to select certain items that were on a table as well as all our luggage and us, and get it all in a car.  The fastest team would win.  It was going pretty well, I had a little conflict with Barbara as I was packing the car though.  We both had our own ideas of how it should be done, it was a good lesson for us both on communication.  As I slammed the back hatch down we thought we were done, and then Henriette shouted that it didn’t latch.  What!!  A strap must have been in the way or something.  I ran back and slammed it again, very hard, leaving dents in the car where my hands had been.   We lost the challenge, the other team would now have an advantage of 1 minute, 23 seconds in the next competition.

We found out that we will be doing a biathlon!  Pretty cool, a lot better than just skiing for 5 miles or something.  It is very popular in Norway, it includes skiing and shooting.  We were instructed by Halvar Handevold, an Olympic medalist in the biathlon with 22 medals.  A national celebrity and a super nice guy.

The challenge was awesome; we had to ski around a circular track and then up a little hill to the shooting area in a relay type race.  At the shooting area were 5 targets downrange, half of us would shoot prone, and the other three would shoot standing.  I volunteered to shoot standing because there were people on our team less familiar with guns and it is much easier to shoot prone.

The contest went pretty well I guess.  The weather suddenly turned horrible though and it was almost blizzard like conditions when we were going.  On my run, I didn’t fall, which was my goal, I had only been skiing once before in my life.  When I was making the approach up the hill to the shooting area I was really digging in with my poles, then my left pole stuck in the snow and came out of my hand.  By the time I realized it I was already several feet past it, in between the shooting area and my pole.  I made a decision to keep going the remaining distance with one pole.  That’s when I fell.  One pole doesn’t work very well; I had both hands on it trying to push between my legs…it looked absolutely ridiculous I’m sure. 

Eventually, somehow, I made it to the gun.  By this time, after going around the track and then falling and getting up I was completely out of breath.  As I was sighting the target the gun was moving up and down uncontrollably as I was trying to breath, I couldn’t hold it still.  I decided to time the rise and fall of the gun barrel and pull the trigger when it was on the target.  Surprisingly I hit three out of five targets this way.  Then I careened back down the hill to my team mates with my one pole so the next person could go.  I seriously expect to look like an epileptic monkey that is being electrocuted while trying to ski when I see this on tv…pretty embarrassing.

My team was confident, we thought for sure we had won.  But, the advantage was too great for the other team and we lost…again.  Luckily I have immunity with the troll, but I feel very badly for the rest of my team mates.  Tomorrow we are just filming “reality” shots around the hyyte (cabin) where we are staying, then the next day, Sunday, the rest of my team mates must face each other in the first elimination challenge.  A very sobering thought, one of them will be leaving Alt for Norge.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

(May 2)
Episode 2

I woke up around 0700 today, went out to the grass outside the hotel where I had a quiet moment.  Said the Sigdrifa prayer as I have become accustomed to since arriving in Norway and I drew one rune; Algiz.  I will be on the lookout for the significance of that as the day unfolds.

I am excited to get on the road after sitting around all day yesterday.  After breakfast we met in the lobby and we left on a bus around 11:30.  We were told we had a 7 hour trip in front of us, I expected beautiful scenery and boy did I ever get it!  It was one spectacular breathtaking view after another as we wound our way to our destination…wherever it was.  We never know where we are going until we get there.

We wound up in a place called Lom.  It is in Jotunheim, which is especially cool for me because I have read many stories in the Northern lore that take place in Jotunheim.  Jotunheim means “Giant Home”, where the giants live.  The hotel we are staying at is really old and beautiful, many of the outbuildings have sod roofs, there is hand-carved woodwork everywhere, it is magnificent.  Today, being here in this place, it has finally sunk into my brain that I am actually in Norway…I get it now.

Tomorrow we leave at 0800 sharp.  We have another hour bus ride and absolutely no idea what we will be doing.  It doesn’t seem like we are far enough up for skiing, but an hour bus ride could change that.  Or, maybe we will white water raft in one of the rivers here?  Who Knows?

I feel a strong spiritual vibe here in Lom.  One of the largest Stave churches is in this town, I took a walk down to see it.  It was closed so I couldn’t go in, but it was still wonderful to walk around it.  It is surrounded by graves, some of them very old.  Some are so old that the engraving on them has been washed away by years of weather, all that remains is a nameless stone to mark the resting place of a  person that at one time had a name, and a family, and a life.

Speaking of names, there are so many wonderful names on these stones; names you don’t hear in America.  Names like Ragnhild, Oddleif, Gudrun, and Sigurd.  I found a family plot with the name of Berge, I know I am related to some Berges so I hailed their name…you never know.

I feel like algiz manifested today in the aspect of connection to the Gods.  I did in fact feel very connected today, to everything.  Tonight we had a wonderful dinner in an equally wonderful place, life is good.  0700 comes early so I am off to bed.


DAY 10
(May 3)
Episode 2

I drew isa this morning.  It is an extremely busy day, no time to write, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


(May 1)


Yesterday was very interesting, as I suspected.  I have never had a press day before so it was an entirely new experience for me.  We all did little interviews with magazines, newspapers, and on-line magazines.  They all sort of asked the same questions; what does it mean for you to be in Norway?  What do you think of Norway so far? What suprises you most about Norway?  That sort of thing.

The hardest thing for me about yesterday was the individual filming they needed to do for the intro.  In the intro of the show there is an acorn that germinates into a tree and then off the branches of the tree are our pictures dangling, accompanied by a cute little musical tune.  My problem is that it is really hard for me to smile for no reason.  I can’t smile on cue, I have to have something to smile about…I can’t fake it.  They tried several techniques to make me smile, told a couple off color jokes, made some crazy gestures behind the camera, I tried very hard, but I couldn’t muster up a suitable smile.  Finally, the producer told me to just imaging seeing my grandchildren again…I smiled.

Last night we were done early and had a very nice meal on the ninth floor of the hotel that was our home base.  Dinner was followed by watching a soccer game (football for you Norwegians), a couple beers and some aquavit.  Then everybody wound up in room 231 drinking whiskey Dana had brought, and talking about our adventure so far.  It was a good time, Jonathan got a little tipsy, actually  several people did.  I didn’t though, there actually wasn’t enough there for me to get tipsy, probably for the better.

Today I drew Ingwaz, Freyr’s rune, he is close.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


(Apr. 30)


How do I describe yesterday?  It’s difficult because it seems like so much happened.  We did a little filming in the morning, a few interviews and whatnot.  Then we were marched to a place where there was a table waiting and set.  It had all manner of peculiar things on it; things I had never seen, and it was all edible supposedly; Caviar in a tube, Mackerel in a tube.  That’s right…a tube, like toothpaste.  You squirt it onto a cracker or something and eat it.  Apparently this is common Norwegian fare. 

Never having been accused of being a finicky eater I dove in, and I actually really liked 95% of this stuff.  Most everything on the table had something to do with fish, and I like fish so it worked out well.  Austin on the other hand seemed to hate every minute, and bite of it.

There was one thing there that I didn’t understand; it was the fish pudding.  First of all, I don’t know why it is called fish pudding because there is nothing puddingy about it.  It comes in a plastic wrap sort of like a summer sausage does, so it is more of a loaf than a pudding.  It is white in color, and to me it was absolutely odorless and tasteless, with the consistency of play-doh, sort of.  Since they call it fish pudding I assume it is made out of fish, or has fish in it…but I could not detect any fishiness at all.  As I was sitting there examining this substance I was struck by the fact that someone went through a lot of trouble to come up with the idea, and actually go through the process of making it…fascinating!  Not only that, but apparently there are enough people that actually buy it, so that someone else keeps on making it…Unbelievable!  I could understand if it at least tasted like something, anything…but it doesn’t.  Anyway, that is the only “food” I have ever encountered in which I didn’t understand anything about it.  Knowing my luck Norwegians will start sending it to me in the mail for a joke, because I wasn’t kind to the fish pudding industry on camera.  It should actually be called "nothing loaf", that would be more accurate.

Anyway, at the fortress they had announced we were in the area that Tara’s family had come from.  During frokost they took her away for her “special day” to learn more about her family.  While she did that we got ready to go on a picnic.  There is a Norwegian word for it…but it eludes me at the moment.

We went to a beautiful place, it was a saltwater beach with large rock formations in a quiet little cove.  We were all very taken with the beauty of it.  They had us doing beachy things; playing Frisbee, cooking hot dogs, wading around in the water.  It kind of reminded me of one of those old Franky Avalon movies with Anette Funechello.   They had us finding muscles, apparently we were collecting them for dinner.

I finally had an opportunity to share my mead with the other contestants.  I had brought three bottles of mead I made from home.  My thought was that it would be a good ice breaker when we all met and it would be nice to share it with them.  I didn’t get to do it in New York, so I brought it all the way to Norway.  Everyone seemed to like it a lot, and I was happy.

Mary Caryl screamed, she was stuck out in about 9 inches of water.  Apparently she had stepped on something…or something?  I asked her if she needed help, she said yes, so I put her over my shoulder and carried her in…like 15 feet.  It was not a big deal at all but I could tell the production crew was going to make something of it.

Then all of a sudden; whiz, bam, boom, we had to gather up all of our shit and get back on the bus.  That’s how it is sometimes in reality TV.

They took us back and told us to change into some nice clothes for dinner.  I chose the kilt ensemble, because my other good clothes were all wrinkled.  We went to where we were having dinner, then waited outside for 45 minutes, something I was to get very used to.  Eventually they let us in, they told me to sit in a certain place.

This chef guy came out and introduced himself as Ole Martin.  We didn’t know it at the time but he is like the top chef in Norway, like a cooking superstar of some kind.  He served us muscles.  I have never really cared for muscles, I’m more of a regular clam guy…but these were absolutely incredible!!  I mean I could have eaten my weight in them they were so good.  Then he brought out two more courses; the best salmon I have ever eaten, garnished with roe, and another fish, a relative of the halibut I think he called it a tibbut?  Unbelievable, all three of them.  In fact they could be the best three things I have ever eaten in my life, that’s how good they were.

Then Henriette came out and told us about the Norwegian spirit award.  It is a little troll, if you win it, you have immunity at the next elimination competition.  I had been wondering in the back of my mind if I would get it.  I hadn’t done anything spectacular, but then again neither had anyone else.  Well...I got it.

They talked about “rescuing” Mary Caryl, and sharing the mead, and really wanting to be here a lot.  My original strategy was to win the troll later on in the competition when things were more dicey, but I thought about the fact that I was now guaranteed to be there two more weeks, there was no way I could be the first one to go home…I decided I was happy to have the troll.

Now it is today…I’m a little off in my journal because I am writing about yesterday today.  But it is today now, and it is a day with the press, I am curious what that will be like, but I will probably write about it tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow, it is a day off, that will be kind of nice too.

I drew uruz this morning.  I am always happy to draw that.  I will be on the lookout for slag and impurities, I will capitalize on my primal nature and strength.