A grandson who sets out to visit all 61 US national parks with his 89-year-old grandmother has revealed that the epic journey has given him "a purpose in life."
Veterinarian Brad Ryan and Joy Ryan, both from Zanesville, Ohio, have visited 29 national parks so far since they left on their search in 2015 and Grandma Joy, who had never seen a glimpse of the sea or even a mountain, has now & # 39; seen more from America than a majority of Americans will ever & # 39 ;.
Brad, 38, says that he and grandma Joy became alienated after his parents' divorce ten years ago, and it was only after they reconnected that he found out she regretted not seeing the world – and a idea was born.
Adventure of a lifetime: Brad Ryan with grandma Joy in the epic Yosemite National Park
Grandma Joy all smiles in the alien Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Veterinarian Brad Ryan and Joy Ryan, both from Zanesville, Ohio, have visited 29 national parks so far since they left on their search in 2015. Grandma Joy is pictured here in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Here is Grandma Joy in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the first national park she visited with Brad
Brad explained that during a conversation about walking, Grandma Joy said she wished she had experienced more of the outdoors all her life.
He told MailOnline Travel: "My grandfather, who died two decades ago, was the breadwinner for their family, so Grandma Joy was happy to have him make all their travel plans while he was alive. Grandma Joy went with him on winter fishing trips to Lake Okeechobee (in Florida) after he retired, but she never saw the mountains. She never traveled west.
"When I processed what she told me, I remember that I would never forgive myself if she died alone in Ohio without seeing the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the many iconic landscapes of America. A seed has been planted. & # 39;
Arches National Park in Utah, pictured, is characterized by more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches
Bring me sunshine: Grandma Joy enjoys a Grand Canyon sunrise on her epic road trip
Grandma Joy in the Redwood National and State Parks in California (left). The image on the right shows her in Yellowstone National Park
So far, Brad and grandma Joy have driven 25,000 miles. Here they are in Acadia National Park in Maine
Brad says Grandma Joy & # 39; inspires people of her age to step out of their rocking chairs and explore & # 39 ;. She is pictured here in Yellowstone National Park
Their first trip was to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Brad said: "In September 2015 I went through a dark time during my fourth year of veterinary school. I wanted to get away to one of my favorite places on earth, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. I also had to be with someone who loved me and I knew that this was the perfect time to show my grandmother the mountains. I called her – and I didn't have to convince her. "When will you pick me up?" she asked. & # 39;
They had a great time. They slept in a tent and climbed a mountain and Grandma Joy "impressed everyone we met on the way."
Brad said the trip immediately changed my life & # 39; and that he now had the hope to show her as much of nature as possible that I could & # 39 ;.
Grandson and grandmother in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which stretches across the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The journey, says Brad, has changed his outlook on life
Brad said that starting the odyssey immediately changed his life. Here is Grandma Joy in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Arches National Park in Utah (pictured left). The picture on the right shows Grandma Joy on a speedboat to Boca Chita Key in Biscayne National Park
Brad told MailOnline Travel that the trip healed & # 39; deep wounds & # 39; in his relationship with his grandmother. Here she is in the Grand Canyon National Park
"Grandma Joy & # 39; s Road Trip" was born and Brad said it "gave me a goal in life that my academic and professional achievements could never do."
So far, Brad and grandma Joy have driven and have been 25,000 miles National parks including Crater Lake, Badlands, Yosemite and Joshua Tree – just to name a few.
They have 32 left before their goal is completed.
The benefits of the adventure for both are enormous.
Brad, currently program manager of the Smithsonian Global Health Program at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, said: "The open road allowed us to exchange stories about our lives. Thanks to Grandma Joy's life traveling through the country, I have been able to appreciate and preserve my family's legacy.
"Nature has allowed us to heal some deep wounds in our relationship and we have been able to forge an unbreakable bond. We have taught each other how to forgive.
"She taught me to slow down and appreciate the intricate details of nature when I was used to running past the" little things "in my quest to conquer a new mountain top. Grandma Joy taught me to be present and grateful for every epic look, because there is no guarantee that we will ever step into the same room twice. We can never assume that there is a second chance. & # 39;
& # 39; The open road offered us the opportunity to exchange stories about our lives & # 39 ;, says Brad. Here's grandma Joy wondering about a rainbow aboard the Yankee Freedom ferry on her way to the Dry Tortugas National Park
Thirty-eight-year-old Brad says he and his grandmother have stopped lifelong adventures in a relatively short time. They are pictured here in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
Go underground on a Mammoth Cave tour in Kentucky. Grandma Joy was the youngest in the travel group for 30 years
Petrified Forest National Park (left) is apparently one of Grandma Joy's favorite places so far. To the right, the couple poses for the camera in Acadia National Park in Maine
The journey has also had a positive impact on others – it has captured the imagination of people around the world.
A particularly beautiful clip shows Grandma Joy rolling a dune in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve at the age of 87.
Brad said: “I remain grateful for the opportunity to show the world that regardless of age, it is possible to make up for lost time and stop a life-long adventure in a relatively short period if you have a positive attitude and you have the willpower to make it work. & # 39;
He added that Grandma Joy, who spent most of their nights in a tent, "inspired people her age to step out of their rocking chairs and explore" and "had a new definition of what an octogenarian means" .
One of his favorite memories, Brad recalled, was that Grandma Joy was the oldest person on the Mammoth Cave tour in Kentucky for at least 30 years.
He said: "We were informed by a forester before the start of the cave trip and they quoted a long list of reasons why someone like Grandma Joy would not enter this underground universe.
Classic pose: Grandma Joy is standing next to a Joshua tree in Joshua Tree National Park
Proud moment: Grandma Joy receives her first Junior Ranger badge in Everglades National Park in Florida
The ruins of the cliff dweller in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado were a hit, says Brad
Brad says that their adventures went pretty smoothly. The worst experience he can remember is camping on a & # 39; dodgy & # 39; camping in Badlands National Park during a storm. He is pictured with grandma's joy here in the Grand Canyon National Park
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is the breathtaking backdrop of this heartwarming snap
& # 39; Grandma Joy does not allow her arthritic knees to put her on the couch & # 39 ;, says Brad
"What they didn't know was that Grandma Joy had already walked through the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.
"She had already visited 20 other American national parks in less than a month before we arrived in Kentucky.
"What these rangers did not know is that Grandma Joy does not allow her joint knees to put her on the couch. If she gets the chance to try something new, she is willing to risk failure. & # 39;
There was, however, a somewhat horrifying moment when the couple were caught in a heavy storm in 2017 while camping near Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
Brad said the "dodgy" campsite also gave them both creepy "Hitchcock / Norman Bates vibes."
He continued: "It was late when we arrived and we were exhausted, so we only needed a flat area to set up our tent.
"The neon welcome sign flickered and the storm started rolling. I cleaned up rocks before setting up the tent.
& # 39; The deafening thunder and lightning continued all night as the torrential rain poured over us.
"Needless to say we were both excited to flee at the first sign of the dawn."
Brad said that now Joy "pushes" 90, "they are finally on their way to hotel life."
He added: "I took so many things for granted for Grandma's Joy & # 39; s Road Trip, and my outlook on life has changed forever."
& # 39; Grandma Joy taught me to be present and grateful for every epic look & say, "says Brad. She is pictured here in Glacier National Park in Montana
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) travel (t) travel_news