Adventure Days

Alden Olmsted
5 min readOct 28, 2023

(or how I got mom’s bp down from 211 to 126)

Mom and Charlie

A friend just asked me how my mom and I are doing, I thought I’d share my response:

Hey thanks —

Yep we’re doing good.

Yesterday was one year that I rolled in from Nashville at midnight, October 27, 2022 finding a wide eyed, frantic, stressed woman who opened the door.

Somewhere West of Flagstaff

Now she sleeps so soundly sometimes I have to get within <1’ just to make sure she’s breathing.

I bought her an iPhone and although it took a few months, she learned how to text her granddaughter at Stanford, now they text back and forth all the time. She asks about the boyfriend and tells her to take it slow, and that she’s praying for her.

One of my friend’s parents stop by every Tuesday and a new friend from church comes by on Fridays just to play scrabble.

We have a pretty great neighborhood, people don’t just wave as they walk by, they usually stop and offer their name, and point out which house they live in.

And the yard decorations are awesome.

We all joke about the neighborhood cat — mostly because he has a cone and mopes around like Eeyore, planting himself at different doorsteps, ours being his choice for some reason much of the time.

His name is Charlie.

I bought her a camping chair light enough she can carry, she takes it outside and gets into the sun while I’m at work.

We watch westerns and tell stories about dad. And she sure laughs a lot.

Long gone are the arguing days of my teenage years, as well as the uncertain days of the past few when her husband (at ten years older) was sleepwalking through the last stage of his life.

And we go on Adventures

This is one of my favorite things because it’s the ultimate turnabout. As a single mom she didn’t have the time, nor the funds to take us to expensive restaurants or lavish vacations, but that didn’t mean we didn’t get out. In fact the opposite. Any family gathering in the Bay Area or faraway Los Angeles was just an excuse for an adventure, and mom’s greatest strength was her willingness to go.

No fear of big cities or traffic or where’d we’d eat or sleep, we’d figure it out and we always did, and sometimes I felt more privileged than friends with far richer parents — because we went places, we did things, we saw the world, not a tv version of it but the real thing.

Now I get to repay.

Buying Cherries in Forestville

I haven’t always held my little side hustle art business in high regard, mostly because the effort often far trumps the payout. However it’s now one of my best excuses to take mom on an adventure.

I tell mom “hey I’ve got to deliver some product, do you want to come — we’ll stop for lunch and maybe drop in on so-and-so on the way back?”

And that’s what we do.

These deliveries are made in boring places like Bodega Bay. Pt. Reyes. Napa Valley and Calistoga, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Marin, etc.. (in other words we’re not slumming it).

Mom often spots a bakery and I order an americano for me and a chocolate eclair for her, and we talk and drive and turn average Saturdays and Sundays into pretty great days.

I know it because I ask her and that’s what she says.

And because of this.

I’m no doctor but for 82 years old — that’s not bad. Especially since one year ago it was 211 over 140.

Yes — that’s what it was when I arrived.

Adventure days can be pretty simple, like lunch with my brother at a coffee shop mom would normally never have frequented, on the way back from a few local errands.

Another great day.

I made a documentary about caregiving for my dad, went on radio stations and shared the experience in newspaper articles — but these moments with mom are a little more personal. I’m trying to share more because the lessons I’m learning are too valuable not to.

But hey I’ve gotta go right now — I hear mom stirring and I’m planning today’s adventure.

Happy Trails ya’ll.

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Alden Olmsted

I was born in a small town in Northern California just another latch-key kid obsessed with BMX and Tom Petty. Now I make films and travel and write when I can.