In preparation for my Alt For Norge adventure, I drove to my parents’ house in Ballard to get a ride to the airport. As I was driving I had some time to reflect on what a cool journey I was about to partake in. It’s not often that you realize you’re in a moment until after the fact – but I had sense that this was potentially a trip that could change my life. Whether it’s the people I meet, the places I go, or the perspective I gain, something tells me I’ll come out of this experience at least slightly changed.

I’m still baffled at the fact that this is actually happening – it still seems so surreal. Sure, I’ve seen reality TV shows before, but that’s not something that could actually be me!? I’m just a down to earth numbers guy from Ballard who likes Excel spreadsheets, investments, and baseball – yet here I am headed to the airport to go on an all-expense paid trip of a lifetime to learn what it means to be a real Norwegian.  Pinch me.

As soon as I arrive at the gate, I’m on a mission – find Kate Mills. A little bit of a backstory – as I was being filmed packing my bags to leave for Norway, I was instructed by Anna Lena (the director) to be more enthusiastic with my packing. “Get excited, you’re going to Norway, not Bellingham!” “Not Bellingham!?” I thought… how has Anna Lena ever heard of Bellingham (a small town of 83,000 located 90 minutes north of Seattle)? I quickly reread the KUOW article about the Seattle casting call: “Kate Mills drove three hours from Bellingham to this audition” and later, “if she [Kate] got to go on the show … that would be powerful.” While she couldn’t say anything, my guess is that Anna Lena was in Bellingham shooting Kate’s hometown bio the day before she shot mine. It didn’t take much Facebooking to know who I was looking for.

Sure enough after about 60 seconds I see her in line on her cell phone… I walk towards her, and she actually recognizes me from the flight to Chicago (apparently we were on the same flight), along with my Rome Paris London Ballard sweatshirt. (We were all asked to bring one “Signature” outfit that shows off who we are… mine was my bright red Rome Paris London Ballard sweatshirt which shows my neighborhood pride!)

We hit it off immediately, talking about how lucky we are to be going on this trip, how excited we are to meet the rest of the cast, and our backgrounds (Kate actually grew up in Ballard!!!). Eventually we boarded the plane, and tried to get some rest.

Next Day