A loving grandson has taken his 89-year-old grandmother to see 29 different national parks, a feat that began in 2015 and has continued to this day.
Brad Ryan, a 38-year-old veterinarian from Washington, DC, decided to take his grandmother, whom he calls Grandma Joy, to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2015, and they have not stopped traveling since then.
The grandmother — who lives in Duncan Falls, Ohio, where Ryan grew up — told Ryan at age 85 that she had never seen mountains, the ocean, or been camping.
“She said, ‘I haven’t seen the ocean, or the mountains,'” Brad said of his grandmother.
It was that revelation that prompted the duo to travel beyond a few hikes in Ohio’s state parks and to go on a massive 28-day trip around the country to visit 21 U.S. National Parks.
As of August 2019, both grandmother and grandson have spent 50 days on the road traveling through 38 states.
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“Everywhere we go people are inspired by Grandma Joy’s spirit and attitude. She believes you’re never too old to try something once whether it’s rolling down a sand dune in Great Sand Dunes National Park or hiking 5 miles round trip to see the Alum Cave Bluffs in the Smokies,” Ryan said.
Through his travels with his grandmother, Ryan says he realizes how time is precious and exploring nature with loved ones is a great way to use that time.
“Being two people who value nature and wildlife (I am a wildlife veterinarian), there is no better use of that time than exploring the biodiversity, breathtaking wonders, and hidden treasures of our U.S. National Parks,” said Ryan, who is a veterinarian at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.