Travel
Grandson takes his 92-year-old grandma on epic adventure by visiting every single US national park
For Joy, being able to get outside of her comfort zone at 92 years old made her realize that there's more to life than just being at home.
Michael Dabu
10.10.22

You are never too old to do something.

When Brad Ryan told Joy, his grandmother from Duncan Falls, Ohio, about his trip to the Appalachian Trail, he was shocked when his 92-year-old grandmother said that she had never seen a mountain range.

Turns out, his beloved grandma had never been into the outdoors and tried activities such as camping.

That’s when Brad who was a veterinarian student at that time decided to start a mission and that was to bring his grandma and visit all the national parks in the entire US.

Brad said, “I felt bad that she was always living vicariously through my stories. And so just knowing that she had never seen deserts and mountains and the ocean and these incredible wild places on Earth, it just felt like a responsibility that I had to her to make sure that she had some memories to take away in her life story as well.”

It’s never too late to start your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

The grandma and grandson duo started their trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since then, the two have done nothing but move from one beautiful location to another like the New River Gorge Park and Joshua Tree National Park.

The challenge started back in 2015 and they are now in their seventh year. Brad and Joy have already traveled 50,000 miles together and have been to 62 of the country’s 63 national parks. They are set to seal the challenge this year once they visit the National Park of American Samoa.

It’s a life-changer for Joy who’s able to go white-water rafting, climb mountains, and sleep under the stars in the national parks that they visited. Apart from the adventure, the grandma and grandson have also strengthened their relationship – they are now the best of friends.

A chance of a lifetime.

Not everyone is given the chance to travel, let alone visit every US national park. For Joy, being able to be outside of her comfort zone made her realize that there’s more to life than just being at home. On their journey, she met many different types of people and she was able to do things that she didn’t expect she could given her age.

As expected, the challenge also comes with a price. Brad paid for their first trip together but set up a GoFundMe soon after to keep his promise to his grandmother. He managed to raise $12,000, an amount that enabled them to visit 21 national parks in 2017. In 2019, the duo was able to visit 20 national parks in 14 states.

Brad soon decided to share their wonderful experience with their family and friends, so in 2019, he started documenting their travels and posted them all on social media. He created an Instagram and Facebook page that both go by the name Grandma Joy’s Road Trip.

To no surprise, both social media accounts gained tens of thousands of followers!

“We didn’t expect that,” Joy said. “He just put that on the social media so the people back home in Duncan Falls knew what we were doing.”

Their adventure spread like wildfire as it gained both national and international attention. Soon, offers from companies and travel agencies came in pouring which helped them tremendously in accomplishing their mission.

Although their adventure is already about to meet its end, Brad and Joy are still open to possibilities of doing more like visiting state parks and even traveling to other parts of the world.

Joy shared, “It’s been a grand adventure, it really has. It’s really been a beautiful, beautiful time. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

We can’t wait to see where will Brad and Joy be after this.

Watch Grandma Joy in the video below as she unfolds the pages of Girl Camper Magazine’s Fall 2020 edition where she was the featured cover story.

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By Michael Dabu
hi@sbly.com
Michael Dabu is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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