See Every National Park Grandmother and Grandson Visited—and How They Reconnected. The tale is startling.

It may be difficult for you to picture a 92-year-old woman sleeping in a tent, hiking a mountain, or paddling through rapids, yet this is Joy Ryan’s daily routine.

Joy and her grandson Brad Ryan took the journey of a lifetime in 2015, seeing all 63 of the nation’s national parks.

Joy, who was then in her 80s, earned the minimum wage working at a deli in Duncan Falls, Ohio, where they both grew up. But she desired more.

She had a tremendously adventurous spirit, but Brad, 41, tells PEOPLE that she «never really had the wherewithal to do anything in her life.» She actually had a connection to the rest of the world through The Travel Channel.

The Great Smoky Mountains trip was first scheduled for 2015. But after having a nice time in the park, they made the decision to continue.

It was pouring rain when we arrived in the park at 1 a.m., according to Brad. She had never been in a tent before, but she assisted me by supporting me with an umbrella as I set up the tent.

She tumbled off the air mattress a few times while we inflated it, but she never stopped giggling.

Joy, who was 85 at the time, and her grandson scaled their first mountain together the next day.

That is when I began to understand that she was giving me just as much as she believed I was giving her, says Brad.

Not just from the experience, but also from spending the night talking to her on the road and learning about her personal challenges, I was able to draw strength from her tale.

The amount of hardship the two have endured together is even more astonishing.

When Brad eventually made the decision to make contact with her again, they hadn’t spoken in almost a decade.

Brad claims that during his parents’ «ugly» divorce, he felt awful for his mother and felt deceived in a similar way to how she did.

Joy also made an effort to assist her son, Brad’s father. I believe it’s normal for mothers to support their sons, adds Brad. «I suppose she simply perished along with the ship.»

According to psychologist Dr. Robin H. Gurwitch, a professor at Duke University Medical Center, there are various causes of estrangement, but «bitter divorce» is a frequent one: «Bad feelings like anger, sadness, a sense of betrayal, and hurt are fairly prevalent.»

These activities «may carry on for years, for a short time, or for life,» she asserts.

Brad wasn’t aware of how dire things were until ten years after the divorce.

He adds of his grandmother, «She was in such horrible form when she went to my sister’s wedding that she pretty much had to be carried in. We were quite close when I was younger, so I felt awful.

According to Brad, Joy was experiencing significant weight loss and extreme fatigue, and physicians were doing numerous tests on her to determine what was happening.

«When I first saw her, I remember thinking, «Wow, this is the guilt I’m going to have to live with.

My grandmother was ready to pass away and I had stopped talking to her. «I was certain that after the wedding we wouldn’t run into each other again.»

By some miracle, Joy recovered though, and Brad discovered that despite being apart, their once-loved relationship had not changed.

Brad asked his grandmother to show him how to prepare banana bread over the phone. Their wonderful reunion began with this.

Joy claims that she was surprised by her grandson’s phone call. «I didn’t expect you to just appear out of nowhere, yet there you were. I’d prefer not to argue with my grandchildren.

She told Brad she was sorry she had never visited any of the nation’s natural wonders during a brief hike in their hometown after a few phone calls.

The fact that she had been left behind and had never experienced mountains, glaciers, deserts, or humpback whales, he continues, was a sad reality. «We’ve suddenly been able to cram all of these things into her life.»

Their journey to the Great Smoky Mountains began with this.

We only took one journey at a time, explains Joy.

I’m really fortunate to have a grandchild like mine, she continues. She declared, «I wouldn’t give him up for anybody.

As part of their thrilling experiences, the Ryans have now flown to Hawaii, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands in addition to driving roughly 50,000 miles.

They encountered a herd of bison in Yellowstone National Park and became stranded there.

During «Bear School,» they received safety instructions for dealing with grizzly bears in Katmai National Park. They observed humpback whales and dolphins swimming close to them in Channel Islands National Park.

They rolled sand dunes in Great Sand Dunes National Park. They had a challenging ride at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park because of the rapids.

Joy even beat the record for finishing the ziplining course in New River Gorge National Park at the oldest age.

I look pale and afraid, but my grandma’s endorphins are just floating,» Brad observes of his grandma’s responses to each wild event they do together.

She was once sitting next to an alligator with her feet in the water when I turned around.

It took Joy and Brad until they were about halfway through this adventure before they began to attract a lot of attention.

They now have nearly 65,000 followers on their combined Instagram account, «Grandma Joy’s Road Trip,» who are following and encouraging them as they go.

Even financially challenging excursions have been made possible by their supporters.

A combination of charitable acts and donations from select corporations, according to Brad.

Joy and Brad have been traveling for seven years, and they are nearly at their destination. The National Park of American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean is the only national park they still need to see.

We have a US territory, and three of the islands have US national parks, adds Brad.

The two have set up a GoFundMe to support their travel expenses even though they haven’t yet secured sponsors for the trip.

Although being 92 years old, Joy is clearly more vibrant than ever thanks to their travels.

Every time I upload a photo, someone comments, «Does she appear a lot younger than when you started taking pictures of her when she was 85?» said Brad.

«I don’t believe that is an optical illusion. I believe that she now has the key to the fountain of youth thanks to the things we’ve accomplished together.

Joy and Brad don’t want to slow down, despite the possibility that this all end shortly.

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