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Man Takes Grandmother Traveling Across Country After She Says She's Never Seen Ocean

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When a parent gets promoted to being a grandparent, it’s one of the best things in life. In many families, new grandparents have put in the years to raise their own kids, and now they get to experience all the joy of babies without all the work.

Distance and familial strain can cause hiccups in this pattern, but even the best, closest, most loving grandchildren grow up and move away — often during their grandparents’ freest (and sometimes loneliest) years.

By the time many adult grandchildren realize this, it’s too late. But a young man named Brad Ryan recognized this and decided to make the most of the time he had left with his grandma. His story has taken off in a big way, and he’s encouraging others to follow suit.

It all started with one sentence from his grandma: “I haven’t seen the ocean, or the mountains.”

Joy, who was 85 at the time and lived in the same town where Brad grew up, had gone hiking with Brad a few time in local areas, but he decided to change that.

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“My Grandma Joy was 85-years-old when I took her on a road trip to her first US national park,” he told Acadia National Park. “She told me she had never seen a mountain or the ocean, so I committed to a mission to show her the very best of America.

“In the past 3.5 years, we have driven 25,000 miles through 38 states. Most recently we traveled to Acadia National Park, the 29th US National Park on #GrandmaJoysRoadTrip.

Grandma Joy is 89 now, but she intends to stick around long enough to check all 61 US National Parks off her list.”

Brad has started a Facebook page called “Grandma Joy’s Road Trip” where he documents their travels. The traveling duo have gained over 1,500 followers so far, and people seem to love watching these heartwarming trips.

“#GrandmaJoysRoadTrip began in the fall of 2015 with an impromptu weekend getaway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Brad wrote. “Grandma Joy climbed to the top of the lookout tower at Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Smokies!”

“When we hiked Smoky, I realized what we were doing had an effect on people, because this is not a very common occurrence, for grandchildren and grandparents to do this,” Brad told KATU.

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“And the idea of being forgotten, left alone in your life without any adventure, it felt unethical to me. I hadn’t heard the story of her life, and it gave us a chance to share those stories.”

Since that first fateful trip in 2015, Grandma Joy has visited 29 National Parks and even rolled down sand dunes. She’s been able to look across crystal-clear lakes reflecting the mountains around them and seen the impressive chasm that is the Grand Canyon.

While Brad has been busy showing his grandma the natural wonders of the United States, she’s taught him plenty about having a cheerful attitude despite life’s trials.

“Seeing it through my grandmother’s eyes, who every morning wakes up and is thankful to be alive, has taught me how to live,” Brad continued. “With her, I’ve had to slow down and see it in a different way, which has made it a lot more rich.

“I love my grandma so much, and it’s just really giving me a lot of peace that when she eventually does pass on, I can go back to these places and feel her spirit, feel connected to her, that she set her eyes on these same things.”

This is how life is supposed to be: spent with family, loving and respecting one another and learning from one another.

“I want people who are younger to know, you aren’t too cool to hang out with your grandparents,” Brad said in a challenge to his peers. “I think we’ve lost that as a society. There’s so much perspective and knowledge we stand to gain from our elders.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking