Man takes his grandma on adventures of a lifetime


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Brad Ryan and his grandma Joy Ryan weren’t always close. Though they had a tight bond through his childhood, Brad’s parents’ divorce had been difficult and led to a rift between the young man and his father’s mother. But when he saw his grandmother at his sister’s wedding for the first time in many years, he noticed how frail she seemed. He also had some personal challenges that caused him to reevaluate his life.

“For all those reasons, I needed to start from scratch and rebuild what was lost during that period of estrangement,” Brad told Fox Weather. “I set out to try to save her from this small-town experience, what I considered a really gloom and doom way to spend your golden years sitting on the porch in the same town you’ve lived in 80-plus years.”

When Grandma Joy told Brad she’d never seen a mountain before, he asked if he could take her to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and she said yes. After a successful trip, they set out to visit every national park in America — and now they’ve been to all but one.

Brad recently shared photos and details of their first trip together, which took place in 2015, when Grandma Joy was 85 years old. She’s now 92 and still traveling.

“This Labor Day weekend marks the seven year anniversary of our first road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was still a vet student at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Grandma Joy had not yet seen (or climbed) her first mountain. And a weekend getaway that was intended to be a one and done experience, planted a seed that would take us to every corner of America over the next seven years,” Brad wrote on the Facebook page, Grandma Joy’s Road Trip.

Grandma Joy's Road trip

Since 2015, the duo has traveled to 62 of the 63 U.S. National Parks, although the pandemic slowed them down a bit. Together, they have been white water rafting, watched bears catching salmon, rolled down a sand dune, slept in tents and watched the sunrise from the seashore. And Grandma Joy has become stronger and healthier.

“I never think about how old I am, I just do it,” Joy told The Washington Post.

In August, they visited Alaska’s Denali National Park:

While in Alaska, they also visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and apparently took to the skies above in a bush plane:

In July, Brad posted that they now had passports in hand that would allow them to reach their final national park:

“All of it has been magical,” Brad, a 41-year-old veterinarian based in Washington, D.C., told the Post. “I’ve been able to see so much of the country and meet so many people with my grandma by my side.”

The last park on Brad and Joy’s list is the National Park of American Samoa, more than 6,700 miles from their hometown of Duncan Falls, Ohio.

“It’s been a grand adventure, it really has,” Joy told “Good Morning America.” “It’s really been a beautiful, beautiful time. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Grandma Joy's Road Trip

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8 adventure trips for every type of traveler — even you


“Adventure” means different things to different people. To some of us, it’s about trekking in Patagonia, paragliding over the Andes, or rappelling off the Statue of Liberty. To others, it’s a hot stone massage followed by a hot toddy.

Point being: You don’t have to take your life in your own (or someone else’s) hands to have yourself a little rumpsringa or holiday. You just have to step outside your everyday self. This can be done at a five-star hotel with 800 thread count sheets, in a tent in the wilderness, or perhaps best of all, in a happy combination of the two.


Maybe your first exposure to adventure travel was a backpacking trek through Europe right after college, a time-honored ritual in some circles, replete with overnight stays at grubby hostels and hooking up with that cute Swede.

But now, you probably prefer a few more creature comforts when you travel, says Edward Piegza,  president and founder of Classic Journeys.

But, he adds, that doesn’t mean you don’t want adventure during the day. Like what? He’s quick to reel off a list of possibilities: glacier hiking in Iceland, swimming with Galapagos penguins, or cooking with a chef in her cliffside home a thousand feet above the Amalfi Coast.

“Everyone is saying 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40,  and we are seeing that in the travel trends,’’ says Ann-Rebecca Laschever,  executive vice president of Geoffrey Weill Associates, a travel public relations firm.  Her term for these travelers: “bucketlisters.”


One of the better definitions of adventure travel comes from Mary Bemis, the editorial director at the “A real adventure is when you’re no longer thinking of your daily life—when you’d rather be someplace else.”

At some level, she adds, an adventure happens when the outcome is unknown and there’s a little risk involved. When that happens, she says, you’re taken out of your everyday reality and forced to confront the present moment.

Here are eight ideas of how to exit your everyday and meet a little adventure head-on, including suggestions for almost every kind of traveler:


Scottsboro, Ala. might not be the first town that comes to mind for a rollicking good adventure, but one million shoppers from across the world prove that wrong each year with a pilgrimage to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

The store is home to 40,000 square feet of goodies that airlines have not been able to reunite with their former owners—everything from clothing, musical instruments, and electronics to a full suit of armor and an over-the-top showcase item (the current showcase piece is a gold and diamond bracelet valued at $42,000).

As many as 7,000 new items arrive daily, with discounts between 20 to 80% off retail prices.


Unclaimed Baggage Center


Set in the Peruvian Amazon far from Wi-Fi and any cell reception, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica is an eco-luxury lodge in the lush Tambopata region in Peru. Comprised of 35 cabins deep in the heart of the Amazon Jungle, the hotel is Mecca for travelers looking to disconnect and embrace nature.

A favorite activity: kayaking the Madre de Dios River and taking a tour along the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, a bridge system suspended 98 feet above the ground. You can spot anacondas and tarantulas, and, if you’re super lucky, maybe even a jaguar.




If you are a devotee of ayurveda, a holistic healing system developed more than 3,000 years ago in India, then it’s off to Germany with you. Really.

A Healing Hotel of the World, Ayurveda Parkschloesschen, in Parkschloesschen, Germany, is an ayurvedic wonderland where you can get your scalp massaged, your chakras aligned, and your energy balanced, all while eradicating toxins from your body.

For a break from your break, take a trip to the nearby town of Traben-Trarbach, home to the Buddha Museum where 2,000 Buddha sculptures and statues, mainly from Burma and Cambodia, await your arrival in their 43,000 square foot home.


Healing Hotels of the World


Imagine a restored ghost town set in an alpine valley on 1600 acres of land, just across the mountain from Telluride. That’s Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado, a small and oh-so-exclusive resort in the San Juan mountains.

You can take your pick from winter activities that include cross-country skiing, dog sledding, heli-skiing, and more. At night, rest your head in one of the 12 luxurious log cabins, an additional tent suite, and natural mineral hot springs.


Dunton Hot Springs


The thousand-year-old Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route is one of the world’s top spiritual roads, attracting travelers from around the globe.  Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage, the path winds through the mainland’s mountainous Kii Peninsula, punctuated by shrines and temples.

Start in Kyoto, one of the main transport hubs to the area.  Just outside of this former capital city, you can experience the new Terahaku project which allows visitors to book overnight stays at temples and shrines. Think of it as the Airbnb of Japanese temples.

Launching this July, Terahaku will allow travelers access to 100 temples near Japan’s largest lake, Biwa-Ko, in the Shiga Prefecture. The project plans to expand to 1,000 temples over the next three years.


Japan National Tourism Organization


At over 2,700 miles long, the Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia and the 12th longest river on earth, flowing through six countries from China to Cambodia and Vietnam. A hub of Vietnamese and Cambodian culture, the Mekong Delta is filled with floating markets selling fish, coconut candy, tropical fruit, variables and flowers.

Aqua Expeditions’ five-star luxury river cruiser, the Aqua Mekong sails along the fabled river offering guests a chance to experience the Mekong Delta region of Cambodia and Vietnam in utmost luxury. The ship features a plunge pool, five-star cuisine by renowned chef David Thompson and is comprised of 20 Design Suites all equipped with floor to ceiling windows offering sweeping views of the vibrant culture surrounding the ship.

Aqua Expeditions can arrange pre- or post- Mekong cruise itineraries for guests at an additional cost, including visits to Angkor Wat, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of 300-plus temples in Cambodia built during the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 14th centuries.


Aqua Mekong


The Harbor View Hotel is the ideal base for a nautical adventure on Martha’s Vineyard. Open since 1891 and surrounded by the 19th-century former homes of whaling captains, the hotel is a short stroll from Edgartown Harbor, where guests can charter a private sailing excursion with top-rated Catboat Charters.

The harbor is also home to the Edgartown Yacht Club, host of the 96th Annual Regatta in 2019, as well as the Round the Island, Round the Sound and Round the Buoy races. After working up an appetite on the water, guests can return to the hotel’s signature restaurant for fresh-caught local seafood and sweeping views of Chappaquiddick, the harbor entrance and the iconic Edgartown Lighthouse.

Among Harbor View’s accommodations options, five spacious Captain’s Cottages—each named after an Edgartown sea captain—continue the nautical vibe. The hotel re-opens in May 2019 following a seven-month renovation.


Harbor View Hotel


A quick 20 minutes outside Charlotte, Cabarrus County is a motorsports-lovers dream. Unleash your speed demon in a real NASCAR race car on the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway while taking turns at upwards of 160 mph. Hit speeds of up to 130 MPH while driving a dragster at zMAX Dragway.

Zip around professionally-designed indoor go-kart tracks in all-electric karts at K1 Speed. Or go power shopping at the Concord Mills, an indoor mall shaped in an oval (like a race track!) with more than 200 stores, a food court, movie theater, and Sea-Life Aquarium.

After, unwind at one of Cabarrus County’s wineries through their Race To Taste program. This self-guided tasting tour is printed on a functional coaster set so you can sip and explore at your own pace.

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Visit Cabarrus / Facebook


Featured Image Credit: Grandma Joy’s Road Trip / Facebook.