Grandson takes grandma on dream adventure traveling all over the U.S. to visit 63 national parks

These were the words of Joy Ryan, a spirited senior, as she embarked on an extraordinary journey with her grandson, Brad.

The duo set out with a mission to visit all 63 U.S. national parks, a feat that would span over eight years.

For Joy, this was not just about ticking off a bucket list but about experiencing the wonders she had missed out on for most of her life.

The inception of this adventure was rooted in Joy’s confession to Brad.
She had never seen the vastness of mountains or the beauty of the ocean.

This revelation struck a chord with Brad, who felt a deep-seated desire to share the world’s beauty with his grandmother.

He recalled her words to USA TODAY, “I wish that I’d seen more of what you’ve seen in life,” and knew that he had to make it happen.

Their journey, however, was more than just sightseeing.
Estranged due to family disputes, the two reconnected after Joy faced health challenges and Brad grappled with mental health issues during his time in veterinary school.

The road trips became their sanctuary, a space where they could rebuild their relationship and find solace in each other’s company.

Their first destination was the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
With Brad in his scrubs and Joy’s infectious enthusiasm, they drove through the night, arriving at their campsite in the early hours.

Rain poured down as Brad set up their tent, with Joy holding an umbrella over him.

Despite the challenges, including Joy’s humorous disdain for sleeping on an air mattress, their spirit remained unbroken.

It was the trip of a lifetime.
Over the years, they encountered the majestic California redwoods, where Joy humorously remarked that the towering trees didn’t make her feel young, just very small.

They also faced physically demanding explorations, but Joy’s determination shone through, proving that age is just a number.

As they traversed the diverse landscapes of America, from the dense forests to the arid deserts, each park offered a unique experience.

However, it wasn’t always about the destination.
For Joy and Brad, the journey itself was the reward.

The countless hours on the road, the shared meals, and the candid conversations enriched their bond.

With Joy nearing her 90s, they adapted their travel style, opting for more comfort over rugged adventures.
Yet, their passion for exploration remained undiminished.

Their travels culminated in American Samoa, a fitting end to their U.S. national parks quest.

But as they stood there, they realized this was not the end, but merely a beginning.

Their shared experiences had ignited a wanderlust that went beyond national borders.
With eyes gleaming with excitement, 93-year-old Joy expressed her desire to explore the vast world beyond America.

She marveled at the thought of discovering places she hadn’t known existed.

With plans to visit East Africa and dreams of exploring all seven continents, they coined their next phase as the “era of international Joy.”

They even have an Instagram page titled, “Grandma Joy’s Roadtrip” where they share photos of all their adventures.

Joy’s journey with Brad is a beautiful reminder that it’s never too late to chase one’s dreams, to rebuild relationships, and to discover the world’s wonders.

Their story is not just about visiting national parks; it’s about embracing life with open arms and an open heart.

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