After his grandmother Joy, who is 92 years old and has said that she has never seen a mountain in person, Brad Ryan has accompanied her to 62 of the 63 national parks in the United States since 2015.
This incredible journey will come to a close later this year when the travelers pay a visit to the National Park of American Samoa, which is the last national park on their wishlist.
When Brad, who was studying to become a veterinarian at the time, informed his grandmother about his journey to the Appalachian Trail, it sparked the idea for a competition to see all of the national parks in the United States.
When Joy from Duncan Falls, Ohio revealed that she had never even been camping or seen a mountain range, he couldn’t believe what he heard!
She expressed her desire to be able to travel the world like her grandson, and in response, Brad provided the world’s most thoughtful gesture: he took his grandma on the vacation of a lifetime.
“It made me feel horrible that she was continually living vicariously via my stories,” Brad remarked, “and so, knowing that she had never seen deserts and mountains and the ocean and these beautiful natural places on Earth, it just seemed like a duty that I had to her to make sure that she had some memories to carry away in her life experience as well.”\
The couple’s first excursion together was a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since then, they have traveled together to a number of other breathtaking locales, including Joshua Tree National Park and New River Gorge Park.
The pair was able to travel a combined total of 50,000 miles thanks to their seven-year commitment, in addition, when they were touring the national parks, they were able to hike up mountains, do white-water rafting, and camp out beneath the stars.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the two have deepened their connection to the point where they are no longer just grandma and grandson but rather the closest of friends.
Because Brad’s parents went through a divorce when he was young, Brad and his siblings went through a period in which they did not talk to each other for a period of ten years. This makes their current friendship all the more extraordinary.
Since they reestablished contact, the two have relied heavily on one another. Before they began going to national parks together, Joy was there for Brad while he was going through a difficult time due to his mental health issues.
After seeing practically all of the country’s national parks, Brad is more appreciative than ever for the chance he had to share this extraordinary adventure with his grandma.