10 years after an estranged relationship grandma and grandson make up for lost time by visiting the US National Parks

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PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Brad Ryan and his 89-year-old Grandma Joy are on a mission to travel through all 61 of the U.S. National Parks. 

Brad and Grandma Joy embarked on their first road trip in 2015 after being estranged for around a decade, Brad says. 

After reconnecting Brad learned his Grandma wished she had seen more of the great outdoors in her life. So, in 2015, the pair headed out on their first camp in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where Grandma Joy held the umbrella over Brad’s head while he set up the tent. ‘She was a really good sport even though she kept falling off the air mattress,” Brad says. 

Fast forward two years and the dynamic duo have toured 38 of the 61 United States National Parks, including Alaska, Hawaii and the Carribean. 

On September 23rd the two started their latest trip with a goal of checking off the remaining parks in the continental U. S. They departed from their home town of Duncan Falls, Ohio. It’s a “real dinky town,” Grandma Joy says. 

On November 7th they hope to have been to 41 out of the 61 National Parks and end their voyage in St. Louis, Missouri. Along the way stopping to stay at Hyatt’s hotel who have been helping host Brad and Grandma Joy throughout their trip.  

I asked Grandma Joy what she thought when Brad asked her to join him on this lengthy adventure, she said: “He wanted to go and I was willing to go if he wanted to take me…He’s a nice guy and a good guy to travel with.” 

Brad says the trip started as a one-time thing but that he felt so much fulfillment and happiness from the get-a-way he was going to take it as far as he could go. 

He says his travels haven’t only strengthened family relations but have given him a new look on life. 

“As I look forward in my life seeing what 89- years-old can look like through my grandmother’s story its meant that I’m never going to use age as an excuse,” Brad says. 

The pair have already visited all the National Parks in Utah. This time around they stopped to see the delicate arch on their way to Dinosaur National Monument. 

“Every park is something different and we’ve seen some really great things,” Grandma says she saw coyotes and fields of prairie dogs. “I know they’re a nuisance, but I think they’re the cutest things I ever saw,” she adds. 

She said she’s seen colors shes never seen before while traveling through Utah. “It was really exciting and beautiful to see all these things.” 

Brad says the best part of this road trip with Grandma has been wiping the slate clean and starting over having new memories replace the old ones. 

Grandma Joy’s advice to anyone wanting to come back form an estranged relationship: “Well, don’t give up hope, just take it one step at a time…maybe one phone call, invite them over for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, and just take it one step at a time. And you have to have a positive outlook on life, so never give up.” 

Follow along with Brad and Grandma Joy thought their Instagram and Facebook accounts where they document their journey.

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