Brad Ryan decided to ask his grandma Joy to tag along on one of his trips to a National Park. Now, it's become a tradition.
In 2009, Brad Ryan had a conversation with his grandmother Joy Ryan in which she expressed a deep sense of regret for not being able to see the country's beautiful mountains. Six years later, Brad decided to win over Joy's heart - and the award for World's Best Grandson - by taking her to a national park. And then another. And then another. And then, yet another. You get the drift. Now, the duo is on a mission to visit every single national park in the United States - yes, all 61 of them, Good Morning America reports. The Ryans post photos of their adventures on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, sharing their experiences from the road. And of course, the internet absolutely loves the pair.
Brad discussed in an interview with Good Morning America, "I remembered a prior conversation with my grandma Joy when we [were] discussing my 2009 Appalachian Trail hike from Georgia to Maine and she expressed regret that she had never seen the mountains and explored the great outdoors throughout her life, so I invited her to join me on my weekend escape to the Smokies. I needed an escape from campus during my clinical year after news of a second-year vet student's suicide was made public." At the time, the grandson was a student in his fourth year of veterinary school at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. While this was a taxing course, the news of his fellow classmate's suicide meant he really needed to take a break.
Therefore, in 2015, Brad and Joy set out on a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since then, they've visited the Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Zion, and Mammoth Cave National Parks, among a plethora of other beautiful parks across the United States. For Brad, this has been an opportunity to bond with his grandmother and make some unforgettable memories with her.
He shared, "[A highlight was] watching my grandmother tap into her inner child as she rolled down a sand dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve at age 87." In addition to this, he also fondly recalled being trapped in an hours-long traffic jam due to a bison herd in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley as well as watching a gorgeous sunrise while at the Grand Canyon. When asked about what wasn't so fun, he answered, "Being charged by a moose along the shores of Fishercap Lake in Glacier National Park." Furthermore, there was also the time when Joy experienced a bout of vertigo while at Biscayne National Park in Florida. Brad revealed, "She still managed to take a speed boat to Boca Chita Key and climbed the spiral staircase of an ornamental 65-foot lighthouse on the island." Way to go, Joy!
By 2020, the Ryans hope to visit the remainder of the parks in celebration of Joy's 90th birthday. At present, they fund their travels through an online fundraiser. "We have received a lot of support from around the world so far," Brad explained. "I am hopeful that opportunities will arise to make it feasible to travel with grandma Joy to the most remote United States National Parks." Here's to all the places you'll go, grandma Joy.