This Ohio grandmother is determined to see all 61 national parks in her lifetime.
Joy Ryan, 89, spent all her life wanting to travel. With her grandson Brad as her companion, she’s finally getting to do just that.
“It’s like a dream come true, to see all the places that I’ve watched on the Travel Channel and to see it come to life,” Joy told Inside Edition.
Up until recently, Joy hardly imagined herself leaving her small town in Duncan Falls, Ohio, where she spent most of her life except for the rare holiday to Central Florida with her late husband.
“Throughout her life, she had this thirst to explore the great outdoors, but most of her vacations were spent doing what my grandfather would want to do, which was fishing in Florida,” Brad explained.
They always took the same route, which meant Joy had never seen the coast nor a mountain in her life.
When he passed away 25 years ago, Joy went to work at a deli until she retired in her early 80s and Brad decided to take her on the trip of a lifetime.
“I thought at age 85, she was long overdue to fulfill this lifetime of adventure she was denied,” he explained.
Since embarking on their adventure, Joy has done everything from climbing mountains to sleeping in tents. They’ve been from coast to coast, from the Channel Islands National Park in California to the Everglades in Florida
“I think you can kick the bucket any time, so you better live it up while you’re here,” Joy said.
This week, they checked off their 31st park – the Indiana Dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Brad said he sees his grandmother as his inspiration, and wants others to find hope in her story.
“Aging is actually a gift and if we’re fortunate enough to make it to 89, this is what it can look like,” he explained. “It doesn’t have to be that stereotype of somebody that’s holed up in their home or waiting to die or being deprived with travel. It’s been a peek at what I want my future to look like too.”