Go west, millennial brothers Will and Jim Pattiz decided on a whim. The Atlanta natives had never ventured much beyond the Appalachian Mountains. They would now.
"We had never been to a national park before," Will says about the trip they took four years ago. "We decided with a couple of friends to road trip from Atlanta all the way out to the Grand Canyon. On our way out there, we stopped at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona."
What they discovered blew their minds.
"Setting foot in that national park was like setting foot on another planet," Will says. "It was an unreal experience."
The horizontally striped buttes and cinnamon-colored trees crystallized over 225 million years rocked their worlds.
"Right from that moment," says Will, "my brother and I looked at each other, trying to figure out why it had taken us so long to go to one of these places."
They would make up for lost time. And then some. The Pattizes brought their filmmaking equipment in tow.
The idea for the "More Than Just Parks" project was born. It consists of eight film shorts, each dedicated to a wilderness treasure. The Pattizes shot footage of Redwoods, Joshua Tree, and Acadia.
On Wenesday, they'll debut the one on Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park.
"Voyageurs was totally unexpected to us," says Will. "Usually when we do one of these things, we do a ton of research beforehand. What was unique about Voyageurs we found out was the fact that there was little out there image-wise we could find about it. So when we got to the park we didn't really know what to expect."
A watery wonderland welcomed them earlier this fall. The introduction to the Northern Lights was more like a spiritual experience.
"They put on an exceptionally stunning show," Jim says. "We have a variety of time lapses that might be the most amazing ever captured on film.
"What we're trying to do is show it like the dream world it was to us. You have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets we've ever seen, as well as seeing the Northern Lights. All in all Minnesota is so lucky to have such an amazing place right in your own backyard."
The brothers now reside in Portland, Oregon. Filming the parks has taken on the vibe of full-time work as more and more people learn about their works. Now it's about funding more trips to visually showcase the parks.
"This isn't about making money. It never has been," says Will. "It's about showing people these places are important, that we should care about them. People need to know about these places and go visit them for themselves. Both Jim and I strongly contend visiting a national park is a life-changing experience."