Alt for Norge – Challenge 1 – Lom

The day of the first challenge was sunny and beautiful. As usual, the mamas told us what to wear – which that day was our wind pants, warm jackets, and either a red, blue, or white hat they had given us to show which team we were on. I was to be on the red team with Brandon, Kent, and Candice. We were the first team to be filmed that day, and as usual, the setup for filming took forever. We hung out about 200 feet from the filming location and we could see that a small course had been set up in front of the Stave Kirke. Finally, the director came to tell us the rules of the first challenge. We were not allowed to run. We had to stay together. At each “station” there would be a puzzle to solve. Once we had come to an answer as a group, we would grab the puzzle piece we thought was correct and go on to the next station. After all the stations, we would try to put the puzzle pieces together and if they fit, we were done. If they did not fit, we had to figure out where we had gone wrong and fix it. Meanwhile, we would be timed. The team with the slowest time would be in danger of being eliminated.

We knew that this challenge would be testing what we already knew about Norway. I knew a few things from my upbringing and some studying I had done before I came – but I had no idea what kinds of information they would be wanting! I just had to hope and pray I had some knowledge that would be helpful to my team.

The first station turned out to be easy – it asked questions about the Norwegian National anthem, locations in Oslo, and government. I knew all the answers at this station.

The next station asked “what was typical Norwegian.” We agreed on an answer that I thought was very good and I felt confident of our answer.

The third station had locations and we were to guess which were Norwegian. This one, I had no idea. We just guessed.

The fourth station was on a bus and the bus driver asked us “Where would the Norwegian sit?” There were puzzle pieces scattered throughout the bus.We all agreed that the Norwegian would sit alone. But the question came down to whether the Norwegian would sit by the window alone or sit on the aisle seat alone. I immediately decided the aisle seat was right and grabbed that piece. Everyone knows that if you don’t want anyone to sit by you, you sit on the aisle seat!  (I thought this station was really cool. The answer to this was so natural. I felt like I had been studying for this challenge my whole life).

We speed-walked to the place where we were to put our puzzle together and found that we had three of the four pieces correct, as we suspected. We went back and got another puzzle piece from the location station and fortunately, we guessed correctly this time. We were done!

As we walked back to the room where the other teams were, we decided to look really downcast – like we thought we hadn’t done well at all.  However, we all felt really great about how quickly we completed the course.

Once the challenge got started, it didn’t take long until all the teams were done and we were being interviewed individually again. Four different times I was interviewed about how I felt I had done and how our team had done. Finally, they brought us all together for the results.

It felt as ridiculous and exciting as I imagined it would – to be there with the cameras trained on us and waiting for the results. I had so much fun doing the challenge and I was pretty confident we had won. Other teams would have had to do it perfectly to have beaten us since we only made one error. Candice was standing next to me and she was so nervous – her breathing was getting heavier and heavier as Henriette slowly began to announce who had come in last place, then third place. Finally, it was down to us and one other team.

“The winner for today’s challenge is, Team Red!”

It was pretty cool!  We cheered! We shouted!  We rejoiced! We embraced! Oh sweet victory! And we knew none of us on our team would be the dreaded first person to go home. I was so glad about that and so glad that I contributed to the victory.

It became very clear that day that this competition was anyone’s to win. It all depended on what kinds of challenges came your way and who your teammates were. We were all smart and capable and gifted in our own ways.The challenges were very fair. Only time would tell how long any of us would be there. But that day – I was really happy to have tasted victory and to be able to not even worry about the next challenge because our victory had ensured we didn’t even have to compete in the next round.

That night we ate supper with the crew and celebrated that the first episode was now complete. The next day we would journey to a new place and another new episode of Alt for Norge.

 

 

 

Alt for Norge – Galdhøpiggen

The next morning we woke up and went to a delicious breakfast buffet. We were told to wear our boots, snow pants, long underwear, fleece, hats, jackets – we guessed we were definitely going to be doing something in the snow.  Marshell had noticed a yellow helicopter in a field near the hotel and so we wondered if the helicopter had something to do with the shoot. Finally, they divided us into three groups and told us to go down to the field to wait. The helicopter was no longer there but very soon we saw it flying overhead and it came to land in the field. Beth, Guy, Kyle, and I were in the first group that would be going up in the helicopter.

We took off and soon were flying over the mountains – I’ve never seen anything quite so beautiful – white snowy peaks everywhere. The cameraman focused on Beth and Guy – they are definitely external processors and had a lot to say as we went zooming over the mountains. I said nothing – just soaked it all in. As we soared along, finally we saw some patches of color below and we could tell that was where the film crew was set up. We came to a landing and exited the helicopter. The helicopter then left to go and pick up the next groups of the cast. Beth, Guy, Kyle and I blinked at the sunlight and the snow and greeted the crew who were up there waiting for us. There was a tent set up where we could go in and get a little warm so we did that.

Finally, the whole group was there and then they took some shots of all of us by the helicopter and the helicopter taking off. They wanted it to look like the helicopter had just left us there in the middle of nowhere and we had to hike to figure out where to go – so we hiked up a tiny hill and there were twelve backpacks up there. They filmed us looking at the contents of the backpacks and putting on skis. I hadn’t been on skis for about twenty years.  I could hardly stand upright on them but I wasn’t the only one.  For a couple hours they filmed us skiing back and forth on the mountainside and they filmed us from every angle. It was cold but not too bad because we were moving around and laughing a lot.

Next, we filmed the part where we “meet” Henriette and she shows us the ice cave. The day started to get long now because there was a ton of waiting and being interviewed individually. It was very cool when we got to go in the room where they had displayed pictures with information about our families. My picture was of the Stavanger Cathedral and it said that my great grandfather, Julius Hetland, was baptized there. He is buried just up the road from where I grew up and it was so moving to see this connection with where he came from. I started crying – I couldn’t help thinking about how much it would have meant to both my mom and dad if they could have seen this.

Then, it was time for more waiting and more bits of filming. I remember at one point I had gone down to the tent to warm up for a minute but apparently the producers wanted us up in the ice cave and so Thor said to me, “Ruth, you have to go warm up in the ice cave now.” Of course, I dutifully went right away but as I was walking up the hill I thought about how that was kind of a messed up thing – to be “warming up” in a freaking ice cave.  🙂

It was getting to be 8 or 9 pm and we were still filming. Next we were to head over toward some tents that were set up about a quarter mile away. We laughed and joked on the way over there that they would never really make us sleep in these tents. It was cold and windy and we had been outside all day, I was shaking and starting to feel pretty bad.  I didn’t say anything – I just kept thinking it was all going to be done soon. Up until this time our accommodations and treatment had been so cushy.  We honestly never dreamed we would actually have to sleep in the tents – we thought they would just film us by the tents, eating the reindeer stew, and then take us somewhere warm.  But NOOOOO!

We found out we would be staying in the tents. There were little stoves in the tents that had to be filled with wood all night to keep the fire going – but the stove really emitted very little heat. We all had good sleeping bags but it was a very long night. I couldn’t get warm. The wind kept picking up more and more. I doubted we would experience many nights like this while on Alt for Norge – because I had seen all the other seasons and it wasn’t usually like this!  Maybe they were doing something different for season 5 – a sort of Survivor edition of Alt for Norge?  Time would tell. But for now, I was cold to my very core and praying for morning to come quickly.Alt_for_Norge__ses_5637978a

 

Alt for Norge – Roisheim

The next day we got up and were loaded onto a bus with the crew to head somewhere, of course no one would tell the cast anything about where we were going, they only told us what to bring with us. As we were riding along, I started to get excited because we were headed toward the area where my mother’s side of the family came from in Norway. I knew from watching the show that most weeks someone on the cast had something revealed to them about their family. I was a little teary-eyed at the thought of getting to see the farm where my great grandmother grew up. My own mother never got to see it and she always had wanted to do so. My mom died in 2011 and we always talked about making a trip to Norway together. My mom was the person I was closest to in the whole world and her loss is the greatest sadness of my life. As we rode along, I looked at the map and the gorgeous scenery and I felt so lucky that I was in the homeland of our ancestors.

Along the way we stopped in Lillehammer for lunch. It was a gorgeous day, but cool.  By late afternoon we made it to our destination for that day – Roisheim, a beautiful hotel out in the mountains not far from Lom.  http://www.dehistoriske.com/hotel/roisheim-hotell/

I was going to be sharing a room with Candice that evening so we got our stuff moved into our accommodations. Roisheim has quaint cabins all over its’ property and hiking trails as well. Before supper, many of us went on hikes and explored the beautiful setting.  Part way up one trail we came upon a tiny chapel in the woods.  Guy took my picture by it – that was nice.

 

We had an excellent supper and wine. Before bed we were told what to bring with us and wear the next day. We wouldn’t be staying at Roisheim again and we knew that all day the next day we would be filming part of the first episode.  Where would we go? What adventures were in store? I was nervous but happy to finally be exploring beautiful Norway in such a strange and wonderful way.