Life man… you gotta take the ups with the downs… you can’t let your lows get too low, or your highs get to high… but this is getting ridiculous. I’m half expecting a bolt of lightning to strike me down to even out my series of good fortune, but I certainly won’t complain while it lasts.

We started the day knowing we’d be starting from behind because of those disinterested cows (ugh!), but knowing that the team advantage is typically pretty small… and I’d already been on a team that “came back” week one.

We’re tossed in vans and taken back to the Victoria, which is quickly becoming our personal Telemark Canal boat! (A bit ridiculous as it’s one of the two major boats in the area… over 100 years old, and a major tourist attraction.) Anway, after some filming “reality” for the show, we’re introduced to part 1 of our team challenge – we’d be given 30 minutes to learn as much as we could about 9 separate Norwegian fairytales. This could include English name, main pot themes, morals, main characters, etc. We didn’t know how this info might be used, but needless to say, the more information we could glean the better.

We quickly visited a number of opportunistically placed locals for information about each of the stories. Some were more helpful than others, but we worked with what we had.

We were given the hour and a half car ride to go over notes and read over the stories… of course the other team had Johnny, who with his 2 years of Norwegian at Stanford, has a clear leg up on the rest of us from a language standpoint. After we arrived at a the Vest Telemark Museum, we were informed the competition would involve being blindfolded, having one team member feel inside a box, and then describe the item to their team who would guess the item (1 point) and the story (2 points).

Damn! We studied characters, morals, English titles, but the one thing we never touched on was memorizing the 9 Norwegian titles. On top of that, the other team started with one point, AND would win a tie (effectively giving them a 1.5 point lead) which in this competition is not at all insignificant.

We had lunch, and did interviews where I made it abundantly clear we hadn’t explicitly studied the Norwegian titles which would make up 10 of the 15 points, but we’d give it our best shot.

At the competition I was up first, and easily felt porridge in a knapsack… the team easily got the item, and to my thrill, named the title too! 3 points!

We went through the items a perfect 5/5 (highlights included Tom getting a cat in a bag, and Jeff getting a miniature horse wearing a crown! I’m a not a big cutesy guy, but the thing was adorable! To top it off, Jeff, Lauren, and Kelsey managed 3 of the 5 names! WAY better than any of us predicted, but because of the other team’s advantage, we’d need them to put up a 9 or worse to win. (Aka only get 2 names right.) This seemed unlikely, but we’d keep our fingers crossed!

After late afternoon snacks and interviews, it was time for results which as always, Fridtjof managed to stretch out for eternity. “Blue team, because you won the first team competition, you had a one point advantage coming in, which was important because  you had trouble identifying some of the items. But red team, you had trouble with a number of the Norwegian titles.” Well shoot, titles are worth twice as much as items, so I’m probably facing my first elimination challenge in a few days (though I was also surprised they missed some items!)

“After we tallied the scored and added in the bonus point, it came down to one point!” (As much as these close finishes seem construed for TV, they’re 100% legitimate, they’ve really been that close, which shows 1.) parity of competition and 2.) luck/randomness of competition). “The winning team that will secure another week in Norway is… the RED team!”

WTF?! I throw my hands up – how does this keep happening. How did we win this one? How do I avoid the elimination competition again!? It will come at some point, but this secures at least another 7 days in Norway which is SO incredible. With that said, it was due to Jeff, Kelsey, and Lauren that we got this one. Like the fairytale Askeladden which we learned about earlier today, it’s great to get help along the way from others on your journey.

Fridtjof tells us that to truly live a fairytale life, we need new clothes… AWESOME! I’m pretty sure (and soon learn I’m right), that it’s BUNAD TIME! In groups we discover beautiful bunads (traditional Norwegian outfits for weddings, confirmations, and May 17th) from our home counties! I’ve got a great bunad from Aust-Agder where the Lia Farm is located! Soooo cool! Grandpa Kenny would be proud, and I know my mom’s side of the family will get a real kick out of it.

Shout out to Season 3 for today’s title inspiration: 

The bunad itself looks like something out of western gunslingers movie. Richard’s white jacket bunad is my favorite, followed by Tom’s green and orange get up!. For the girls, Lauren looks like a queen, with a look topped off with a 100,000 KR ($12,500) crown!

We drove down into a valley for a 10:00 PM sit down dinner in one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever seen. The Dalen Hotel was opened in the late 1800’s and has hosted the likes of Kaiser Wilhelm, and other heads of state (including the king and queen of Norway!) We had dinner in bunads, and tomorrow will get to celebrate Syttende Mai, in Norway, rocking bunads specific to our ancestors region of Norway! Life has a strange way of presenting experiences that should only be dreams but have recently been my reality. What a world we live in.