Saturday, October 27, 2012

DAY 38
(May 31)
Travel day

Now we are sitting here in the Bodø airport waiting to go back to Oslo.  I drew Fehu this morning.  Yesterday I had a chance to get all caught up on the runes I am carving in my drinking horn, I’m happy about that.  I truly love this area of Norway; The landscape, the air, the water, and the people, I really like it here.

I think tomorrow we actually get a day off, it will be nice to relax a bit before the next episode starts.  While I was at Kjerringøy I had an opportunity to meet David Berner and Eric Williams the inventors of the show, they wrote the original show that it is all based on.  I had several great conversations with both of them, I seem to have things in common with both of them even though they are different people.  I look forward to corresponding with them after the show is over.

I am closer now than ever before to meeting my relatives in Norway…only four more episodes.

The Gods and the ancestors are with me always; yesterday I went to the end of the pier at Kjerringøy, I said a prayer of thanks to the Gods, ancestors, and landavette.  When I finished I looked up in the sky and there the clouds had formed a perfect, great, eye, and it was looking right at me.  I took it to be the eye of Odin letting me know I am being looked after, I took a picture of it and it turned out great.  I think I will blow it up to hang on my wall at home as a constant reminder that I am never alone.

DAY 39
(June 1)
Day off

This morning I woke up in Oslo and drew Raidho, perhaps that means I should get up and walk around, explore the city while I have a chance.  So far today all I have done is eat frokost and lay in the bed doing absolutely nothing, just enjoying the solitude, my own thoughts.  I watched a Norwegian fishing show for about a half hour; there were about 20 guys fishing in a river, during the entire time I watched it not one fish was caught…riveting television, lol.

I have been thinking a lot about being here, on this show.  I believe I have so far accomplished my goal of being myself, being true to who I am and what I believe in the big picture.  I’m proud of myself for that.

Sometimes, with the other contestants I feel like an old man with all these young kids around, sometimes I feel like their older brother, their uncle, sometimes their dad.  I don’t really feel old most of the time though, because I’m not old, most of the time I just feel like Alf.

Episode 7 starts tomorrow, it is here, somewhere in or around Oslo somewhere.  We have no idea what the theme is or what we will be doing…all I know is that I need to prevail, Gods willing, that is my plan.

I am very curious how I will be received by the Norwegian people when the show aires.  I honestly have no idea how it will go and there is really no way to speculate.  I am just me; Alf Herigstad, a big bald guy with a crazy beard and a religion many have not ever heard of.  It would be very unfortunate if the people of Norway don’t like me, I think that would hurt my feelings…because, well, it just would. But I wouldn’t be anyone else even if I knew how to…I will just have to wait and see.

Friday, October 26, 2012

DAY 36
(May 29)
Episode 6

This morning I drew Thurisaz, the thorn, Thor, the force of my will…it could have many meanings, we’ll see how the day unfolds.

Today the blue team; Jonathan, Austin, Amy and myself left at 0830, we traveled by bus and ferry back to Bodø, to the airport.  There we met our pilot Bjørn, he was a very nice guy and seemed like a competent person…which is important because he would soon have my life in his hands.  He took us to our plane, it was a little 5 seater plane with two engines, I don’t think I have ever been on a plane this small before.  Of course, prior to getting on a plane like this one always considers the possibility of it crashing, I am no different.  The result of my thinking about it was that if that were to happen, if this was to be my last day in Midgard…I couldn’t really think of a better way to die; in Norway, over a fjørd.  I was fine with that and any small amount of fear I had vanished.  After all, I’m going to die one day anyway, it’s inevitable…out of all the possible ways to die there are many less preferable than this one.  I am a firm believer that I will die exactly when I am supposed to, as long as all the people in my life know how I feel about them, I can always meet death with no regrets.  So lets get on the plane!!

We wore headsets so we could hear each other talking…or screaming as the case may be.  Amy and Jonathan seemed pretty nervous, but Austin and I were just excited.  We took off, flying low along the coastline.  The view was truly awe inspiring!  The plane was constantly fish-tailing in the heavy winds like a car driving too fast on an icy road, I looked at Bjørn and could tell he was used to that.

We were headed towards Kjerringøy where we had been staying.  We traveled up a little fjørd and saw the ferry we had taken earlier, we rounded a big, jagged, snowy mountain, a bit too close I think because we seemed to run out of air; the plane dropped straight down 50 feet in a second like there was nothing holding it up for a moment.

Then we continued on to the place we had been staying, we circled it a few times in both directions, it is a much different perspective from the air.  Then we started heading back out over the big fjørd.  On the way back I saw the camera guy Jan Kenneth making some hand signals to the pilot then suddenly, the nose of the plane was pointed straight down toward the sea.  We plummeted straight down for I would say 30 or 40 meters before starting to climb out of it, then we went straight upward to the sky for about 100 meteres…then we went straight down and did it all again.  At the bottom of the dip we were pulling 3 G’s, which meant I weighed about 750 pounds for a minute…the whole thing was awesome!  I loved it!

We eventually landed again safe and sound.  Jonathan had turned green…I mean he was actually green in color and I am not exaggerating.  He was quite ill, but he never thew up.  I was worried he would throw up during the plane ride…that would have been awful; because then we all would have thrown up.  But he didn’t, so it was fine.

After the thrilling plane ride we were taken back to where we were staying for some interviews, that is about all that happened today.  Tomorrow, one of my friends will have to leave and go back to America.  It will be an interesting day.

DAY 37
(May 30)
Episode 6

This morning I drew Isa; ice, which makes sense because I am in stasis today, I’m not going anywhere.

We don’t have anything to do until 1215 except wait while the others go through their competition.   While I was waiting I decided to do a rune draw in which I asked the norns who would go home today.  I drew Fehu.  Immediately I associated that with female energy, even though there were two women in the elimination somehow I just knew that it would be Tara who would be eliminated.  No matter who it is, it will still be sad to see them leave.

The runes never lie; Tara was eliminated, losing to Todd by one point in the challenge.  She seemed pretty ok with it, she hadn’t really been herself completely since Dana had gone home…and now she could go and be with him.  I will miss her very much though, her and I had some great talks, she is a great person.

Today Alt for Norge history was  made when Jessica received the spirit award for the second time. No doubt because she had been in every elimination challenge and managed to keep her spirits up in spite of it.  It is a game changer though; she has immunity next week, the field of people is getting smaller and smaller. 
Episode 6 comes to a close...Tomorrow we are off to a new adventure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

DAY 34
(May 27)
Episode 6

It’s Sunday morning, the sky’s are clear.  Again I drew the rune Ehwaz, the horse.   It is such beautiful country up here, it is how I imagine Iceland to look; barren and rocky in spots, mountains jutting up everywhere as if the earth beneath them were in pain, stunted trees that live in spite of the environment…all beautiful.  My soul recognizes this place.

We took a boat out to a rocky island in the artic sea.  I am on the blue team with Austin, Jonathan, and Amy.  We met Henriette and found out what our challenge was; we were to fish little wooden clues out of a pond, there were words on the clues, we then had to arrange the words correctly and say it back to Henriette.  I already knew the phrase would be what Henriette said to us upon our arrival;  “What would we do without the ocean, would we have to carry our boats?”  We totally kicked ass on that part of the competition, everyone contributed and it worked out great.  The second part of the challenge was to gather 10 seagull eggs.  The weather rolled in then, extreme weather, it was so bad they had to abort filming for a while to save the equipment.  So, we will quit for the day and do the second part of the challenge tomorrow, as well as the second team challenge…whatever that is.

DAY 35
(May 28)
Episode 6

This morning I drew Fehu, first time since leaving home; fire, cattle, mobile wealth.  We went back to the island and did the seagull egg hunt.  It was fun, I enjoyed it,  the other team won this part so they will have a slight advantage in the next competition.  When we got back we had the opportunity to then eat the seagull eggs.  I enjoyed them; they are the size between a chicken egg and a duck egg, but very tasty. Their shell is a dull olive green with black flecks to help them blend in and not be seen by predators.  Now we are getting ready for the second team challenge.

4 seconds…….holy crap!!........Hail Freya!!  The challenge was making a little meal in the most horrible conditions.  They had a wind machine blowing on us with water and sawdust to resemble snow.  We had to peel shrimp, make little sandwiches, pour and drink a glass of wine without letting anything blow away or dropping anything.  When the last person was done eating and drinking the time would stop. 

Our team worked really well together, at the end I had a hard time swallowing but I got it done.  The other team had an advantage of 5 peeled shrimp and we still won…Awsome!!  I am going to episode 7 for sure.

I feel bad for the red team, especially Jessica; she has been in every individual competition since we began.  That has to be tough on her emotionally and mentally, but she is Norwegian, she can handle it.

Tonight the little town of Kjerringøy is throwing us a dock party.  It will be on film so probably won’t be as cool as the party in Starnda, but still very nice.  It was fun, turned out they even had some live music playing and people were dancing, it was very nice chatting with the locals, I met some really nice people there.

Tomorrow my team is going up in a little tiny plane to see the area from the air as our reward, I am excited…I think Amy and Jonathan are a little worried, it will be great!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

DAY 32
(May 25)
Travel Day

Today I drew Ehwaz, the horse.  Still thinking about what that means…Maybe because I am on a bus all day?  It is supposed to be a 10 hour bus ride, it is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit today, very unusual.  A ways into the trip the air stopped working on the bus so it became quite uncomfortable.  In general though, the weather has been very accommodating during this whole experience.  The crew is always amazed, but I’m not…after all Thor is accompanying me.

Tonight we will stay in a hotel, tomorrow we get together at 10:00 to get on a plane and fly somewhere, I think we are going North, we’ll see when we get there.

It would be really nice to be on the winning team this week.  Jonathan has the spirit award, a lot of people are already gone, the competition is getting tough.

 DAY 33
(May 26)
Travel Day

This morning I drew Ingwaz; the hearth, the home, the God Freyr, it should be a good day.  I skipped frokost this morning.  Since I have my own room for a change I am using the time alone to relax and think. 

I am trying to figure out what I could be doing better, how I might give myself more of an advantage.  It is difficult, because the challenges are of such a nature that no distinct advantage exists; luck is involved, and fate, rather than sheer skill or ability.  It is arranged in such a way that it is extremely fair, which, in a way is somewhat of a disadvantage for me because I am used to calculating strength and weakness in myself and others in order to succeed, when the playing field is completely even, there is nothing to calculate.

I want to see the end, I NEED to meet my Norwegian family!  I need to see and do as much as I can of this country and its people before I go home.  In evaluating myself I have determined that so far I have been true; true to myself, my family, Brenda, my ancestors, and my Gods.  I have been faithful to Freya and our agreement.  Beyond being true in all these ways and doing the best I can, I can not think of what more I can do.

I do miss home, all the people there, the dogs and the other animals.  I find myself worrying occasionally about the state of things back home, wondering how everyone is managing in my absence.  But…all I can really do about that is hope, hope that all is well and that everyone is getting along. 

I think when I do eventually go home it will be weird.  It will take some time I’m sure, maybe a couple weeks, maybe more to decompress and process everything that has happened.  It will seem very strange I think, very surreal, I hope I am granted the time I need to do it well.  Enough of all that though…worry and fret will profit a man nothing!  So, I will just continue to be hopeful and do the best I can, I will continue to be true.

Today we arrived in the town of Bodø.  I loved this place immediately and am thrilled to know that it is north of the artic circle.  This is farther north than I have ever been in my life.  A girl working in a store told me that this time of year it never gets dark…that is so bizarre!  Right now it is 2320, 11:20 pm and it is still fully light outside as though it was the middle of the day.  I’m going to take some pictures to document this.

I have no idea what the challenge is tomorrow, but they are having us suit up as though we are getting pretty wet.  We were supposed to take a boat somewhere in the morning but that fell through so we are taking a bus to an island I think.  Oh well, I guess we’ll know what’s going on tomorrow.  One thing I do know, is that I love this north country; I love the feel of it and the way the air kisses my skin.  It feels like a spiritual place as well, I feel very connected here.  Perhaps I have been here before in another life?  Could be.

Friday, October 12, 2012

DAY 30
Episode 5

I don’t have a lot of time to write today; there is a lot to do, and tonight the townspeople are throwing us a party.

I drew Berkano this morning; the birch, renewal, new growth, fertility, Freya’s rune.  I will be on the lookout for the relevance of this.  The weather is amazing today, we are down by Storfjord filming interviews and stuff.  While waiting for my turn I took a walk down the coastline, and I found the jaw of what looks like an anglerfish!  It is in great shape, I am very excited about it…I am going to try to bring it back home with me.  I also found an Alder tree, that may not seem like much but it is the first one I saw in Norway.  It is significant because it reminded me of home…where alders grow like weeds.

DAY 31
(May 24)
Episode 5

This morning I drew Algiz; the elk or antler, a protection rune, I definitely feel safer in the elimination today…

It is now 2130 pm,what a day it has been!  We who were on the blue team and up for elimination had to be ready to go at 0900….which wasn’t all that easy because last night we were up late at the party the wonderful people of Stranda threw for us.  It was a great party though; there were local meats and homemade beer, the entire cast and crew were there and there was no cameras, it was quite wonderful.  Then, my new brother Vebjørn presented all of us cast members with the official pin of Stranda!  I will wear it religiously for the rest of my time in Norway.  So anyway, I consumed just enough beer to give me a pretty good headache, and I was very sleepy when I got up, but most everyone else was too.  I drank a lot of water and I felt good again in no time.
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                      (The Party)
So we all gathered and met Henriette to find out what our challenge would be.  It turned out that is was kind of a race; the theme being everyday Norwegian life.  We would all go one at a time and we would be timed, the person to complete the course in the longest time would have to leave Alt for Norge.  The order was decided and Todd would go first, followed by me, Jessica, and Barbara.

There were 5 check points, at each one we would have to perform a task, answer a question, or both.  All of the tasks and questions were supposed to pertain to everyday life in Norway.

It took quite a while for all of us to get done, because the cameras had to follow us around everywhere we went, finally though…we were done.  I was a little nervous after the competition because I had had to guess at two of the checkpoints, both of them involved food.  One question was what is the most common ingredient in a mattpacka, or Norwegian sandwich.  The other question was what is the most common ingredient in Norwegian dinners.  I did not remember ever receiving that information.  I chose round sliced meat for the mattpacka and salmon for the dinner…after I thought about it I then thought I should have chosen white cheese and ground beef…but, nothing I could do then except wait and see.  Finally, after an excruciating long period of waiting the results were ready.

Everyone made mistakes, no one was perfect, but Jessica did the best, followed by Todd, that left me and Barbara on the hot seat.  Henriette read the times, and one was over a minute faster than the other.  At that point both me and Barbara figured it was her that was going home…and we were correct.

I thought she handled it really well, it wasn’t as sad as some eliminations because of the way she was taking it.  That is until we all said goodbye as she drove away, she was crying then, and so were others.
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                     (Bye for now Barbara)
So I am safe for another week, thank the Gods!  It felt like a very close call, I don’t want to repeat that experience.  Tomorrow is Friday, we will leave early to be on the bus all day back to Oslo, then Saturday we fly out to our new location…wherever that is.  Sunday we start filming episode 6, no rest for us this week.
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        (Me and the wonderful Skog family)
I have really, really enjoyed this week.  I am deeply touched by the genuineness and hospitality of Vebjørn and his family…the whole town of Stranda for that matter.  They are all beautiful wonderful people, I will come back to this place one day, I don’t know exactly when, but I will be back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

DAY 29
(May 22)
Episode 5

I drew Jera this morning; the harvest, the culmination of everything that has gone before, the reward.  Though it seems to bode well, I have learned that these daily rune draws cannot always be taken to pertain to the challenges, they could refer to any aspect of my life.

It has been a long day, it is now 2320 at night and it is still light out.  Our challenge today was to drive to four different locations and through a series of different challenges collect as many tree-shaped air fresheners as possible…Norwegians call them “wunder baums”.  I won’t go into what all four tasks were here, because it will be on the show, but in the end we lost by two wunder baums.  Actually, my team did very well and found three more wunder baums than the other team…but, they had an advantage of 5 wunder baums to start out with from the previous competition…so we lost, by 2, frustrating.

So, today is Tuesday.  On Thursday I will face my second individual challenge, and I’m fine with that.  I have decided that I am confident in my mind and my body, I am also confident I will do my best.  So, if I were to lose an individual competition then it means I have been bested, and I have no business being here any longer.

Tonight we had dinner with the Skog’s, they are such a wonderful family.  Tore Andre found my episode of Onkel America that I appeared in on the TV and we all watched it together, I had never been able to see it before so that was fun.  It was good to see my people on the TV for a moment.

Then, they had a kubb game so we went outside and played.  Norwegians vs the Americans.  Since I play at home and even make sets to sell I was able to give my team some good advice…the Americans won!  Vebjørn shared some more beer and aquavit with us.  They are really great people, I love them.  Vebjørn and Marete told us that in the morning we all needed to be together so they could talk to us for a bit.  We figured there was certain information they may be imparting so we all knew we had to pay good attention.

Tomorrow in the evening at 1900 Vebjørn has arranged for the village to throw us an off-camera party at the village center!  We will taste homemade beer and local food, it is a wonderful thing they are doing for us and we are very excited about it.  Then, on Thursday, either Todd, Jessica, Barbara or myself will be eliminated.  I am not planning on going home yet, there is too much I have not yet done.  I will trust in myself, and use the gaze of the ancestors and Gods upon me to propel me to victory.

Many Gods have made their presense known to me on this journey; Freya, Thor, Tyr, Freyr, Njord, and Odin too.  I am a blessed man.  I know my family is rooting for me hard, Brenda is bending over backwards to keep things together on the farm.  The dogs…..?  I wonder what they think?

I’m going to turn in now with a belly full of salmon, salad, rice, and vegetables.  Tomorrow we have interviews and reality to film but we are supposed to be done by 1500…I may jump in the fjord.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

DAY 28
(May 21)
Episode 5

Wow!  I can’t believe I have been away from home for 28 days.  In a way it seems as if I have been gone for years, in other ways it seems like I was just home yesterday…it’s really weird.  I am hoping Brenda is ok and nothing on the farm has been too hard for her to handle.  This morning I drew Sowilo again, I take it as a good sign.

We will leave today at 0915 and will be staying wherever we are going for the next two days.  The weather is absolutely gorgeous!  Sowilo at work no doubt.

We all gathered and got right to the first challenge without any delay;  the theme of this week is “everyday life in Norway”, and part of everyday life, is your job.

The village of Stranda is home to the Grandiosa factory where Grandiosa pizzas are made.  Suprisingly, the frozen grandiose pizza is the most consumed food in Norway.  The teams were chosen, I was on the blue team with Todd, Jessica, and Barbara.  In front of each team was a table full of fresh ingredients…we were to each design and make four identical pizza’s which would then be eaten and judged by the towns folk on creativity, appearance, and tatse.  Sounds like a fun challenge.
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              (Our pizza)                                                                          (Their Pizza)

We went with a surf and turf pizza, trying to represent the best of sea food, and beef.  I think it worked well and tasted great.  Our pizza was also beautiful; we used different color peppers arranged just so as to enhance the presentation.  I am certain that we dominated in all three categories, the red teams pizza was nothing special to look at, it didn’t have a design of any kind, so I was sure that we have creativity and appearance sown up.  But…that was not the case.

The red team won on appearance and taste, we won on creativity, giving them the overall win.  What may have hurt us was that as our four pizza’s were cooking in this outdoor overn thing, three of them fell and crashed to their deaths in the bottom of the oven.  That meant we only had one pizza, so the red team could only use one pizza, which cut down drastically the number of townsfolk that were able to judge.  Instead of 50 people there were only about 14.  Oh well, it’s just the first competition.

After the competition we were told that we would be staying the next two nights with Norwegian families.  Now that is exciting!!  We knew that one family had a dog, and I desperately wanted to stay with that family because I so missed my dog Adrienne at home.

Luckily for me my team got the family with the dog!  We walked to their house and finally got to meet them.  The dad was my age (49), a fantastic guy named Vebjørn, the mother was Merete she was 42, the son Tore Andre was 17, and the daughter Hanna was 13.  Right away I knew they were wonderful, warm, hospitable people.  Their last name was Skog, pretty cool name, it means forest.  Their dogs name was Cindy and she was 4 years old.  They also had two cats; Nisse and Misse, mother and daughter.

We talked and talked about many, many things. We were pumping them for information because we were figuring out how this game worked as well.  We were asking them everything having to do with everyday Norwegian life, because we think this information could show up on a challenge.  Tore Andre and I took Cindy for a nice walk, the cameras followed of course. 
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I can’t say enough about the Skog family.  As I write this from my journal I have been back in America for awhile, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of them.  Vebjørn and I refer to each other as brother; our brother from another mother.  We are great friends and I suspect it will be so for the rest of my life.  We just hit it off…I love that guy, the whole family actually.  When I do return to Norway one day I will definitely go to Stranda and see them, Vebjørn made me a promise and he can’t make good on it unless I go there.

Now it is 2330 at night, and still light outside.   Tomorrow we leave at 0700 for the next competition, the important one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

DAY 25
(May 18)
Episode 4

This morning I drew eihwaz; the yew, yggdrasil, the spine, the vertical axis.  I will keep my eyes open to see how it applies today.

Today we are filming a full day of “reality”.  It’s a very common thing in TV production; sometimes the day is too short to get everything needed, or the lighting isn’t right or something, or we will just have several interviews to make sure that the editors have enough material to choose from in post-production.  It is all reality though, because regardless of the timing our answers and statements to the questions are sincere and genuine.

We had a final opportunity to say goodbye to Dana today.  Sometimes when people are eliminated they are whisked away and we never see them again, other times, like in Dana’s case it takes time to make travel arrangements etc. I’m glad because I was able to tell him a proper goodbye.  Tara is having a difficult time with his leaving.  She confides in me a bit and I have tried to bolster her spirits.

Tonight we went to an Italian place for dinner and had an amazing calzone…the waiter was a very unpleasant fellow, which diminished the experience for some of my friends…but I was too focused on the calzone to really notice.

DAY 26
(May 19)
Day off

Today we were taken to our new home base headquarters; a swanky hotel in the middle of Oslo.  It isn’t the Grand hotel, but it’s pretty cool.  I drew eihwaz again this morning, I will do some studying to see why that energy is so prevalent.

(The lobby of our new hotel)
Today is all about relaxing, the last four days have been pretty intense; always on the go, always with something to do.  I spent much of my time in the room on my back, perfecting my impersonation of a potato.  Tomorrow we are traveling to our next adventure, we have no idea where, or how we are traveling.

DAY 27
(May 20)
Travel day

Woke up, had frokost.  Drew sowilo; the sun, success.  Always a good way to start the day.  We were told we are not flying, instead we have a seven hour bus ride ahead of us, still don’t know in what direction.

(The official Alt for Norge bus)
(Norway is beautiful)
In actuality, the bus ride was about nine hours, nine hours north.  It was the most beautiful drive I have ever been on.  It is now 19:50 in the evening and we have arrived in the charming little village of Stranda.  Looking out my hotel window I can see a beautiful teal colored fjord with mountains looming up behind it…what a surreal life this is. 

I had brought three bottles of mead with me from America, I had shared two of them with my fellow contestants at the picnic scene…but one bottle had been missing since then.  Thankfully they had found it before we got on the bus, so now I took it outside and used it to pour a libation, an offering to the landevette of this land and introduce myself to them in the way I had become accustomed to whenever we go to a new place.

Dinner is in ten minutes.  I have absolutely no idea what they are going to do with us here, I suspect it may be farm related, or have something to do with the beautiful fjord that dominates this landscape.  It doesn’t really matter to me, either of those options would be ok with me.  However, based on my guesses from past episodes, I am probably wrong on both counts.  Tomorrow we begin episode 5…exciting!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DAY 24
(May 17)
Episode 4

Hail Freya!  Today I woke up at 0600, went outside to the park/square area in the middle of downtown Oslo, said my morning prayer and drew Tiwaz; Tyr, justice, victory, courage.  I am very happy about that since today I will face my first individual challenge.

Frokost is between 0630 and 0730, then we have to come back to our rooms where a surprise will await us.  I’m sure it will be the Bunads…I can’t wait to see what mine looks like, and wear it in the parade.  Turned out that the bunad I got was not the one from my family’s area, and it didn’t fit too well, but some safety pins got me through the day.

We spent the first part of the day just enjoying 17 Mai in Oslo.  We had a spot up by the royal palace where the king came out and waved to everyone.  I have never seen a king before.  When we Americans think of kings we often think of fairy tales and ancient history.  It’s pretty cool that I am standing there looking at a real live king and his family.  I especially love the Barnetoge, it is the children parading through the city, and a pretty big deal for them to participate in, a river of children.  Everywhere I look is red, white, and blue,  people in bunads, and kids eating ice cream.  It is as if the entire country is out celebrating this day.  I am so privileged to be here.

Eventually our challenge was announced; the four of us would have to write and perform a speech about 17 Mai in front of a park full of people, we would be judged by two members of the Parliament.  I am excited about this challenge.

We only had about 40 minutes to talk to people, write the speech, memorize and rehearse it as best we could,  Dana went first, then Jonathan, then me, then Amy.  I thought we all kicked ass, especially Amy, who I picked as the winner.  Each speech was very different though, so much so that it will be difficult to compare them, I have no idea how it will be judged.  I don’t know if I am safe.  My plan for the speech in the limited time I had was to appeal to the emotions of the audience, and speak with pride from the perspective of a Norwegian-American seeing and learning about 17 Mai for the first time.

The time between giving the speeches and learning the results was brutal, finally though, they were ready to let us know.  The judges told Amy and I that we were safe first, I hailed Freya as I got the news and was extremely relieved.  Then it was down to Jonathan and Dana…Dana would be the one leaving Alt for Norge.

As I re-write this now I have watched this episode.  Much of our speeches were edited out for time, so I thought I would include my entire speech here, for posterity:

I began in my broken Norske that I had picked up:

Jeg heter Alf Herigstad, jeg kommer fra USA, jeg bor I Olympia Washington, men blodet mitt komme fra Norge…sammen med min ånd.  Jeg elsker dette landet…and that is why I am here today; because I love this country!

From when I was a small boy I have always been very proud to be Norwegian.  When I was playing with other children being Norwegian was my “super power”; It made me stronger, smarter, and faster than the other kids…at least that’s what I thought.  But, what I want you to know today is that now, after being in Norway and celebrating 17 Mai with you, I have become more proud of this country than I ever thought possible.

One reason I am so proud is because YOU, the Norwegian people are so proud!  That is evident in the fact that your national anthem has 10 verses…it took ten whole verses to fit in everything about how wonderful this country is!  The American anthem only has 3 or 4 verses.

Just look around you, there is very little garbage in the streets, all the people here are well taken care of and seem to have what they need.  The pride and spirit of excellence that won your independence in 1814 is reflected well in the Norway that exists today, and in how you live.

It is amazing to someone like me, to think of you earning your independence after 400 years of Danish rule, that is almost twice as long as America has even been a country!  In two years you will celebrate 200 years of that independence…well done Norway, well done.

Thank you all for your time today, it has been my great honor and privilege to be here, to wave at the king, to see the Barnetoge, and to speak to all of you.  You have very much to celebrate on this joyous day, live it well!  Gratularer med dagen…TUSEN TAKK!

So, that was my speech.  We have an opportunity to say goodbye to Dana tonight and I am glad; I like him a lot and consider him a good friend, he will be missed.

I heard we were eating Chinese food tonight.

Monday, October 1, 2012

DAY 23
(May 16)
Episode 4

I slept well last night, woke up and drew hagalaz, again.  I am going to get one of my books and study that rune more thouroughly this morning, there must be some reason I drew it two days in a row.  Perhaps my friend Dan MacDonald is sending me some protective energy, he deals a lot with this rune?  Or, perhaps I am just in for some hail?  I just finished studying it and I came up with “Harbor the ALL in myself, and I will control the ALL”.  I can use that.

It is now around 1730 in the afternoon.  It has been quite a day.  We met Henriette and there were two tables full of instruments and various noise making devices.  Turns out we are going to be street performers; collecting money from passers by.  Pan handlers in other words, something doesn’t feel good about this.

I am trying real hard to remain optimistic, that is my nature after all.  Dana plays guitar, Amy belly dances, Jonathan can play the xylophone or whatever that thing is…I can sing a little, not sure what Jessica can do but she is a clever gal, I’m sure she can do something.  Well, despite my optimism Dana didn’t know any songs that I could sing with, he got a few numbers out anyway.  Jonathan was fairly entertaining just being himself, Jessica was working the crowd as best she could and Amy was belly dancing her ass off, figuratively speaking.  About all I was good for was standing there like an idiot perpetually shaking the maracas.

The whole thing was excruciatingly painful for me; this is the first competition in which I feel I had no value and barely contributed.  We were getting a few kroners, they were trickling in slowly.  A guy yelled “NEI” at Jessica so she took a little break.  I tried my hand at approaching the crowd with a hat in my hand begging for money.  Apparently the sight of a 265 pound bald guy with a crazy beard coming at you with a hat in his hand asking for money was a little more than the Norwegians on the street wanted to deal with.  They scattered from me like roaches when you turn on a light.  I’m not comparing them to roaches…it’s just a good analogy.

I think we had to be out there for 30 or 45 minutes, I can’t remember which.  But it seemed like two lifetimes.  We were actually pretty confident because as rough as we had it, the blue team was even more lacking in talent than we were.  Finally we got the results; blue team smoked us by 500 kroners…what?  How the hell did that happen?  Was one of their mothers in the crowd or something?  We were shocked to say the least.  I felt really bad for Amy because she had belly danced the whole time, through pain and misery, and now it seemed it was all for nothing.  She was crying, and we all tried to console her.  Dana was playing the guitar so much that he wore the skin off his fingers and there was blood spattered all over the guitar.  Everyone on my team did their very best, even though all I did was shake maracas…I did it the best I could.

In talking with the blue team after the challenge I learned that they took a different approach; knowing they had no talent they just started talking to people.  It worked!  One guy even went to an ATM and came back with some big bills for them.  Well, that’s the way it is, so we just have to deal with it.

Tomorrow, I will face my first elimination challenge in which I am not safe.  I don’t feel nervous, at least not in the typical sense.  I don’t want to leave Norway yet, but I know that I will do my best at whatever it is, and I can’t really do more than that.

Dana is a strong competitor, and so is Jessica.  I cannot underestimate Amy or Jonathan either.  Jessica actually has immunity so she won’t be competing.  I am confident regardless of what the challenge is, because I can do most things well, and I will do my best, that is all the control I have.

It’s evening now, back at the hotel.  I can’t help thinking about the way things have gone and wondering why my team has had such rotten luck.  That is futile thinking though; it simply is what it is, what has happened is in the well already, I just need to focus on the wool between my fingers, the present, because that is the only place I can affect the future.

Alone in my room I made a prayer to Freya.  In my belief we never ask for anything unless we are prepared to also give something.  I have nothing here though, no possessions.  So, I offered her a few drops of my blood in exchange for her continued good will and faithfulness, it was all I had to give.  The remainder I have put on this page as a reminder.

Time to go to sleep now, tomorrow should be very interesting.  It is 17 Mai, a huge deal here in Norway.  Kind of like the 4th of July back home but it seems much deeper somehow, everyone celebrates it from their heart in a beautiful expression of national pride.  I am so lucky to be here tomorrow, I can’t wait.