Internet InfoMedia ohio woman 94 sets out to visit all 7 continents with her grandsons help always think positive

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

Please enter a valid email address.

A 94-year-old adventurer — who made headlines last year for being the oldest person to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks — just returned from Chile and the Galápagos Islands on her newest quest: to conquer all seven continents.

“When you get to a certain age, everybody starts saying, ‘Oh, you can’t do that. You’re too old to do that kind of thing,” Joy Ryan of Duncan Falls, Ohio, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

“Just tell them to jump in the river and be positive. Give it a try. If you don’t try, the next day you’ll regret it.”

OHIO GRANDSON TAKES 92-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER TO VISIT EVERY SINGLE NATIONAL PARK: ‘TRANSFORMATIONAL’

So that’s what she did — beginning at age 85. 

Ryan lived for nearly her entire life in Duncan Falls, 68 of those years in the same house. She worked at the deli in her local grocery store, sold Avon products for a while, ran a gift shop with her late husband, Bob — and enjoyed the company of her grandchildren.

Joy with Brad Ryan

Last summer, Joy Ryan became the oldest person at age 93 to visit all 63 U.S. national parks. Now, she and her grandson, Brad Ryan, are traveling to all seven continents. They just returned from a trip to Chile and the Galápagos Islands — checking off South America. (Brad Ryan)

“My very first memory as a human being is on a lake shore when I was about two-and-a-half years old with seagulls circling,” Brad Ryan, 43, told Fox News Digital. 

“Grandma tossed some breadcrumbs down and the seagulls landed in front of me. That was my introduction to joy — to the magic of life.”

TEXAS BEST FRIENDS, AGE 81, GO VIRAL FOR TRAVELING TO 7 CONTINENTS IN 80 DAYS: ‘MAKE SOME PLANS AND LIVE’

Brad Ryan said his grandmother was always willing to get into a stream with him, catching frogs and crayfish.

But as he grew up, time, divorce and distance kept them apart for almost 10 years. 

Joy and Brad Ryan in Channel Islands National Park

Joy Ryan and her grandson Brad Ryan, have traveled the country visiting every U.S. National Park, including the Channel Islands National Park. Now they’re taking on the world together. (Brad Ryan)

As a 30-something adventure-loving veterinarian who travels and speaks on topics such as GI parasites, Brad Ryan had seen a lot of the world — and decided it was time to revisit his roots.

As the two began to reconnect, Ryan said that his grandmother casually mentioned that she had never seen a mountain — and she wished she had.

“I thought, ‘What a simple dream,'” he said. 

She half-jokingly said the trek “wasn’t that challenging” — and that’s where their journey began.

“It was just this in-your-face moment of like, ‘Wow, not everybody gets to leave their hometown and see what I’ve been able to see.’ It was supposed to be just a one-and-done camping trip to the Smokies. She ended up seeing not only her first mountain, but climbing her first mountain at age 85, two and a half miles up on the Alum Cave trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

FLORIDA WOMAN, 99, GOES VIRAL ON INSTAGRAM AFTER GIVING THIS PIECE OF LIFE ADVICE

Joy Ryan got a standing ovation when she reached the summit, her grandson said. 

But she half-jokingly said that the trek “wasn’t that challenging” — and that’s where their journey began.

Joy and Brad Ryan in Alaska

Brad Ryan, left, and Joy Ryan traveled across the U.S. last year and saw places like Alaska and more — but they are now taking their adventures around the globe. (Brad Ryan)

“I was kind of disappointed,” Joy Ryan said, laughing. “I thought it was going to be a big cave and all it was was just a dip in the rock. I said, ‘You mean to tell me, I climbed clear up here for a dip in the rock?’”

But she would soon face bigger and better challenges — and take in grander views. 

Such as when she and her grandson landed on a glacier, floated with sea turtles, faced class III rapids on a rafting trip — and went on a safari.

PENNSYLVANIA COUPLE TRAVELING ALL OVER THE GLOBE SHARE AMAZING PHOTOS, STORIES FROM WORLD TRAVELS

Some of her most exciting moments, Joy Ryan said, have been seeing wildlife in their natural environment, such as the cinematic experience of watching 30 brown bears feed on salmon under a waterfall in Denali National Park in Alaska.

“If somebody asks you to go somewhere, don’t ever say no. You’ll regret it the rest of your life.”

— Joy Ryan of Ohio

“There was one bear that stood behind the rest of them, and he would wait until they would get a salmon and then he would take it,” she said, chuckling. 

“This one mama bear had a little bear, and she sent him up a tree so he wouldn’t be in the way and get hurt. He kept peeking around. It was fun to watch him.”

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC REVEALS ITS 20 ‘BEST OF THE WORLD’ ADVENTURES TO CHECK OUT IN 2024

Yellowstone National Park was the Ryans’ third National Park to visit, early in the journey.

“I got to see Old Faithful go off three times,” Joy Ryan said. 

Joy and Brad Ryan in Denali National Park

Joy Ryan and her grandson visited Denali National Park last year — the tallest peak in North America.  (Brad Ryan)

“And at the end is another geiser, but they don’t advertise it because they don’t know when it’s going to go off. But it went off and it’s twice as big as Old Faithful. It was amazing,” she added. 

“I just sat there and got to watch the whole thing.”

After visiting all 63 U.S. national parks, Joy Ryan unofficially broke a world record, her grandson said.

NEW YORK VETERAN, 105, SHARES HER SECRET TO A FULFILLING LIFE: FAITH, FAMILY AND ‘NO REGRETS’

“The National Park Service doesn’t keep track of it, but nobody has challenged her, and it’s been a very public journey,” Brad Ryan said, referencing his grandmother’s Instagram post about her travels. 

“It’s hard to imagine another 93-year-old landing in the Arctic Circle and walking across the Gates of the Arctic National Park like she did. I think she beat it by a long shot.”

four continents split

Joy Ryan and Brad Ryan are making their way around the world by hitting all seven continents — and even the debatable eighth continent of Oceania. (iStock)

But the two didn’t want to stop there — especially since Brad Ryan said he could actually see a physical transformation in his grandmother. 

“When we started the journey on the mountain that we climbed when she was 85, she was very unsteady in balance and coordination,” Brad Ryan said. 

BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVELER ON A BUDGET BY VISITING THESE 13 AFFORDABLE DESTINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD

“They were not what they are today. So from 85 to 93, she’s actually seen — and I’ve seen and everybody that follows her on Instagram has seen — this reverse aging process happen.”

And it’s not just her body that’s grown stronger. Her mind and spirit have come alive, he said.

Grandma Joy Galapagos guide

Joy Ryan and her tour guide in the Galápagos Islands. After learning Spanish at age 93, she was able to carry on a conversation with him and learn interesting facts about the beauty and mystery of the island. (Brad Ryan)

“I think that that’s kind of a confluence of just getting out and pushing yourself and being physically fit, but also not being lonely — being connected to people,” Brad Ryan said.

 “She’s made so many new friends from around the world. [And she has] purpose — having something to look forward to in your older years so that you’re not just sitting around the house,” he said. 

Besides North America, the pair have visited Africa and have just returned from South America.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *