When we arrived at the airport, Kate and I made our way to baggage claim. At this point we didn’t know if there were any other Washingtonians on show, until a girl walks up to the two of us. “You guys on Alt?” she asks? I quickly recognize the paintbrush tattoo on her arm from the same KUOW article! Not only does Heidi live in Washington, she lives in Ballard less than a mile from where I grew up! We literally drove by her apartment 3 times when we filmed my hometown bio. What a small world!
(As a nerdy numbers tangent… my guess says there were 90 in-person applicants at the Seattle casting call. There ended up being 3 people from Washington chosen. The KUOW article included pictures of 5 of people. The odds of all three of us who were chosen being pictured is 1 in 11,614, but that’s exactly what happened.)
We have a quick breakfast, and then had a number of mandatory meetings with show directors, executive producers, media managers, etc. After a big nap it was finally time to meet the rest of the cast, which was SUPER cool. I mean here are the 11 people that I hope to spend the next 2.5 months with adventuring all around Norway!
Kate Mills – 34: Kate is a super sweet mom to two girls. Her story of losing her mom at a young age and wanting to learn more about her ancestry, especially now that she herself is a mom, is the perfect story for the show. On top of that, I learned that she went to North Beach Elementary, where Mickey Rousso (one of our best family friends) was her 3rd grade teacher! On top of that, Mickey named his second daughter Katie, after Kate, and remembers her vividly and very fondly as a student. On top of THAT, Kate was inspired by Mickey to become a teacher and graduated from Eastern Washington University. Mickey’s daughter Katie… just graduated from Eastern Washington University. SUPER small world.
Heidi Somes – 34:
Heidi is a renaissance woman. She’s into art, photography, fashion, and high altitude mountaineering, having hiked above 20,000 in Nepal and on Mt. Everest. She lives less than a mile from where I grew up in Ballard, and doesn’t know hardly anything about the show. She simply applied after seeing a “What’s Happening in Seattle This Weekend?” write up in the newspaper, and hasn’t watched a single episode online.
Kelsey Iverson – 28: Kelsey attended Boise State for a year or two in 2006. She works as a stewardess on yachts out of Miami. She’s originally from Montana and still has family there. She looks a lot like Kelsey Plum, star basketball player at the University of Washington. She seems pretty down to earth.
Joni Adhal – 33: TOTAL sweetheart, an awesome and really fun girl. She’s from North Dakota, works as a lifeguard, and has a Midwest accent. When the rest of the group ordered beer and wine at dinner, she opted for chocolate milk and apple juice instead (gotta get that vitamin C when traveling!) As someone who’s not a big drinker I have big respect for the chocolate milk / apple juice choices!
Derrick Thingvold – 20: Derrick is the youngest in the group at only 20 years old. He’s real nice, and towers over the rest of the group at 6’ 8” (208 cm). He looks like your classic Viking with a beard and long wavy hair. He’s from Minnesota and goes to school at Bemidji State.
Thomas Monson – 32: I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Tom. He lives in Redding, California but is originally from Minnesota. He has Jason Mraz fashion and very mellow vibes. He has a ukulele that he seems to carry with him everywhere he goes.
Johnny Bartz – 28: Johnny is a grad student at the University of Miami where he’s also a “frat dad”. Didn’t get as much time talking with him, but he seems like a real nice guy. He grew up in Minnesota
Brittney Miller – 26: Apparently at her hometown shoot she was cast as being “bubbly” with literal bubbles. She has blue hair, has worked as a cashier at a coop, but not sure she’ll go back to the same job when she gets home. I learn that she’s not particularly comfortable on the snow. She’s very friendly, down to earth, and I believe she’s from Minnesota.
Lauren Semingson – 23: I didn’t get a chance to talk much with her, but she’s got some serious locks. They might be braided dreads? (I soon learn they’re extensions, not real dreads.) She’s vegan. She’s from Wisconsin, but goes to school at the University of Minnesota.
Richard Brummond – 32: Another guy with a very Viking like build. He’s from Iowa but lives in Minnesota, has lots of tattoos, and apparently is a WWE style wrestler? He certainly looks the part.
Jeff Johnson – 47: The oldest one in the group, he’s a great guy. He’s got 2 kids, and he met his wife in Ballard 15 years ago! He has a great big bushy beard and is a George RR Martin doppelganger. Oh! And of course he’s from Minnesota.
That’s a whole lot of Minnesota (7 out of 12 with ties), but also lot of Ballard (4 of 12 with ties if you count Jeff twice). While Ballard is only a small part of Seattle, if it were its own city in Norway, its population of 167,000 would make it the 5th biggest city in the country, behind Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim, but well ahead of Drammen.
I head to bed excited for tomorrow’s flight to Norway!