Joy Ryan is an 89-year-old from Ohio. She never really vacationed in her life and as a result, had never seen the mountains or the ocean. But an idea from her grandson has now changed all of that.
In 2017, Joy’s grandson, Brad Ryan, suggested that they visit all of the country’s 61 national parks. “I said, ‘Let’s give it a whirl!’ I’m glad to try anything. I said, ‘I’m not going to sit down and drink tea and watch soap operas until I have to’,” Joy said in footage provided by Fox31 Denver.
So they began by visiting 21 parks in 28 days in 2017. “During that road trip, she climbed a mountain at the age of 85. She slept in a tent for the first time in her 85 years of life, and she wowed me,” Brad said.
Joy had a blast rolling down the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. “She didn’t break a hip,” joked Brad.
“I figured I’m only going to be here once. I might as well go down it,” Joy noted.
She also came face-to-face with wildlife. “When you have a full-grown moose running straight at you and your grandma can’t run away from it, you just have to stand there and hope for the best,” Brad said.
Three years and 28,000 miles later, they’ve traveled to Colorado to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, bringing them up to 36 parks.
The experience has been truly breathtaking for both Joy and Brad. “Everything we see is something new and beautiful and hard to absorb. It really is. You just can’t express it. It’s been really great. I love it,” Joy said.
The best part? After hearing about their journeys, Hyatt Hotels is now paying for their stays across America so Joy doesn’t have to rough it anymore. You can follow Joy and Brad’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram.