Sunday, November 24, 2013

Behind the Scenes Thoughts: Episode 6

Hello everybody!  Welcome to a behind the scenes look of Episode 6...coming to you LIVE from the shores of Lake Siljan in beautiful Mora, Sweden!  It's been an amazing weekend experiencing Dalrna again - this time in the cold of late November - and meeting some of the relatives I've had a chance to connect with online since getting home from Sweden this summer.  (Many of them are from other branches of our Swedish family tree here in Sweden - branches that the show didn't collect research on!)   It was an fantastic weekend and a fantastic episode!

-The drive from Karlstad up to Mora was breathtaking at every turn!  Just another beautiful day driving around Sweden to be thankful for.  (I think it was about a 3-4 hour drive...with incredible scenery along every mile!)

-I love opening the Amerikakoffert this episode because we all look like we just rolled out of bed and into the park.  And kinda of, that's true.   When we made the plan to drive from Karlstad to Mora, we were told it was an easy day to drive up.  So we left late, stopped for food, took our time...thinking that we would have a day of leisure upon arrival - which gave everyone the freedom to just be relaxed in appearance and not worry about contacts and dressing "up".   But about 45 minutes outside of Mora, we started getting calls asking where we were and we needed to hurry...and instead of having a day of relaxation, we went straight into filming!  So you see us in all of our roadtrip glory (which for me is also my day-to-day-in-Sweden glory, for the most part.)   But after the koffert, we broke into our two groups and went to the Zorn Museum (John, Lori and Dawn) and the outdoor village museum (also a Zorn museum)(with Shane, Becky and I), so it was definitely NOT a day of leisure! 

-I think the genuine excitement you see in our faces when we find out we're going to make our own Dala horses is probably one of the most genuine reactions of the season.   I mean...honestly....WHO gets to do that!???  WE DID!

-This is another episode where the editing of what we did and when we actually did it is all over the place, so it looks like my clothing choices are all over the place.  I know no one probably notices it - except me - but I just wanted to put it out there.   I actually really love seeing they take what we actually filmed and slice it up and string it together to tell the narrative each week!

-Also for the record...I knew what the Swedish flag looked like before coming here.  My castmates made it sound like all we know is the Dala horse back home...but being the Olympic fanatic that I am, and the flag fanatic that I am, I have long been aware of the Swedish flag.   Just let the record state that.  Thanks.

-The outdoor museum Shane, Becky and I went to was INCREDIBLE!  It really looked like this cool 'Game of Thrones' village on the edge of Lake Siljan!  Some of my most favorite moments here never made it on camera.  When we first walked into the outdoor space, the first little courtyard area had this big water well, with a bucket on this big swinging arm, and becky and I started laughing and being silly that it was like Cinderella at the she and I started singing that song from Disney's Cinderella (when she sings into the well and the echo answers her): "I"m wishing...for the one I find"   And Becky played the Cinderella role (NATURALLY) and I was the echo.   I don't know why it struck us as so funny, but spent WAY more time than we should have doing it.  It was pretty hysterical - and I thought for SURE would make the cut.  But it didn't...which really is probably best.

-One of my most favorite personal, spiritual moments this whole adventure was sitting in that park that day - both talking to Shane and Becky by the tree...and sharing more of my life with them - and then again when I realized that this was a gift I could give my father.   That moment was a real 'spur of the moment' realization - as I sat there that day - and I consider it such an incredibly personal experience that just happened to have been captured on film.  I'm very very thankful for that day with my dear friends.

-The other highlight of that little village was the 3 seat OUTHOUSE that we found and took pictures in!  Take a look at my photos tomorrow to see Becky, Shane and I having as much fun as you can have in an outhouse!

-Like a week or so before this team challenge, I had a dream that we had a men-vs-women team challenge - and it wasn't skiing the vasaloppet - I don't remember what it was really but I remember we laughed a lot - but I told everyone that I had this dream and I thought one of our team challenges was going to be a men-vs-women.  I don't think I'm psychic - I just think I had a random thought from a random dream that ended up happening.   And also, in this challenge, we did NOT laugh a lot we did in my dream.  We were LASER focused!

-I love when John and Shane and I are talking about the competition and how Shane was talking about we were going to wipe their faces in the ground.   It's funny when Shane tries to act tough.  HA!  I can only say that because it's also funny when I try to act tough.

-When they showed us the challenge first off, they also allowed each team to do a quick practice walk on the skis of like 10 feet.  Not too far.  But it allowed them to size the foot holes for each of us.   Both teams were there, and we watched the girls and I don't think anyone of them would disagree that their practice was pretty dismal.   It actually gave the three guys more confidence because the girls had a really tough time pulling it together for that practice.  I'm glad to see they did better with it in the real competition - but that practice was a MESS for them!

-I died of embarrassment at the hoop throw.  We had talked that the best way to do it was throw it like a frisbee....which you see John and Shane do immediately.   And something within the stress of the race, I THOUGHT I was doing...but clearly I wasn't.   After I missed it three times throwing it the weird way I was throwing it, Shane said "Throw it like a frisbee!"  WHICH WE HAD DISCUSSED!  And as you saw in the episode, once I made that correction, it was perfect.  But I seriously thought up to that point that I HAD been throwing it like a frisbee.  It's so WEIRD how our minds work under pressure.  MAN it was embarrassing watching myself throw those things!

-Can you TELL how out of breath I was as I tried to read that math problem?  Awful.  I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish reading it because I couldn't catch my breath!  I could NEVER be a cross country skier.  HOW do people do that race of 90 kilometers?!?!  I couldn't even make it a full block without getting winded!

-I love that Shane said he was so bad at math - because he busted out that answer!  I'm REALLY mad at math so if I had been in charge of that, I'd STILL be in that street....probably crying and pouring blueberry soup all over me.

-So we always want to win, but I had been told the morning of the team challenge that I would be going on my family day RIGHT after the team challenge, so the pressure of that was on my mind the whole challenge, as well.   I wanted to enter into that experience with a clear mind - and not being worried about having to go to an elimination challenge!   I'm so thankful to Shane and John for helping me get that opportunity!

-The fishing was part of what Shane, John and I did while the girls went to the elimination challenge.  I messed up my fishing pole like 3 seconds into the experience, so I just stood there acting like I was fishing.  In reality, my wire was a big knot of fishing wire and I just stood there dipping it in and out of the water.  It was still fun though.

-When we were at the Dala horse factory, in the room where the horses are cut, the production staff told me that I could NOT volunteer to do all the stations.   I volunteered to stamp - and then we got to the cutting and everyone else hesitated - and I was like ME!!!!  But since it couldn't be me, I pushed Shane to volunteer.  And then I pushed Becky to volunteer to paint!  But MAN I wanted to do all of it!

-So we really did get to paint the horses and then we had to leave them at the Granna's factory to be finished off with lacquer and whatever else they do to finish them.   BUT - there is no way to express the excitement of being home from Sweden for a couple of weeks and getting a box in the mail from Sweden with YOUR OWN Dala horse!  What an incredible day.   I made my Dala horse for my parents - and I think it now sits on their shelf in their home in Boise, Idaho!  (You can bet I will check for it the minute I get home for Christmas!)

-Another GENUINE reaction you got this episode was when the folk band walked out from behind that barn.  Anders said the music sounds something like this....and we heard the music.   And it really honestly sounded like it was being played on a stereo we thought we were going to sit and listen to some music...which was great...because the music is great.  But then the musicians turned the corner - and this wall of emotion and excitement hit us...and we were in perfect musical Swedish heaven!  That experience could've gone on forever and was INCREDIBLE!!!

-My "profile video" in DC was a fun day!   There was a segment producer and a cameraman with me for about 12 hours that day, and we had a great time!  We shot the segment at Ford's Theatre EARLY in the morning before the theater opened - and the interview portion of that day was in one of the dressing rooms at Ford's.   And for those who have asked....when I am talking to my parents on Skype, I am actually in my friend's (Steve and Allison) basement - not my apartment.  Their house is WAY nicer than my apartment. 

-The boathouse that I am sitting in front of when I open my family trunk is actually a very very old boathouse that was owned and run by the state church.  The church had boats that would go around the lake and pick people up and take them to and from church.  It was a really beautiful setting.  I'm thankful they found it.

-So I have learned a bit more about the house I visited - and it's not actually where my great grandfather grew up his whole life - but it is where the family was living when they decided to leave for America.  It doesn't change the impact of visiting the house - but I just wanted to story to be correct.   It was unreal to visit that home - and to know it was a place of my history....a piece of a story of a family of incredible faith.

-The only other clarification that I wanted to make was at the end of my segment, I said coming out to my parents opened me to a new world to me - and whole new land...and I don't think the editing caught the rest of what I said.   Growing up gay and Mormon had elements of loneliness....but by coming out to my parents, that NEW world it opened up to me was just that I felt like I had wiped away that loneliness.  I was in this new world where my family knew EVERYTHING about me...for the first time ever...and they were there loving and supporting me fully.    I love this "new land"...and I am thankful for incredible parents.


-So our activities in Mora wrapped up and we drove back to Stockholm - the DAY before Midsommar festival started here in Sweden.  It was SO sad to leave Dalarna - and as we drove out, we saw all the little villages gathering around decorating their maypoles....and I wished so badly we could have stayed around and experienced a midsommar out around Mora!   Maybe next time!

Later this week, I'm going to write a longer post about this experience and how it altered and strengthened my faith.  I don't think a quick little bullet point here on this list would do the subject justice.   So I will get a proper entry written to go more in depth about the entire blessing this summer in Sweden was for me.  Until then, have a great week....thank you for following along with this adventure...and please let me know if you have any questions that I can answer for you!  Farewell from Dalarna!!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Episode 5 In Photos

Enjoy my collection of photos from Episode 5!!!

A Morning In Karlstad
A Day With Donnez
Team Competition Day
 A Soccer Game With Friends
More Sights Around Karlstad
Elimination Challenge
Saying Goodbye to Mike
 Goodbye Karlstad!