Happy 15th Birthday Explore!!!!

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    I’ve forever said that EXPLORE is a living breathing “thing”. It has its own personality, it’s extremely irreverent, it makes fun of everything, but at the same time it tells some seriously profound and intense stories of some of the most interesting people in the area. I have loved this silly magazine since the 1st issue, and every issue since.

    Probably the most important reason that EXPLORE grew into this living breathing thing is because of some of the people that have helped create it.  I’ve been blessed to work alongside some folks far more skilled and intelligent than me, and I’m grateful for the experience.  Being a humble small business owner, I would frequently get younger folks early in their careers, they were then blessed to do some pretty cool things and gain some killer experience with the magazines here, and then they would move on to super sexy corporate jobs that would pay them far more than I ever could. And I would celebrate with them every time.

    But those experiences with these great folks were a great part of what made my job so much fun and made EXPLORE a conduit for some of my favorite memories of the past 15 years. We’d all sit around and somebody would crack some stupid joke, which would then become an idea for something we should do in the magazine, and then sure enough, we’d be working on that silly idea a few hours later while we all chuckled at the ridiculousness of it all. 

    For this issue, I reached out to a few folks that used to work on EXPLORE and asked them to just share a few thoughts on their time with the team and what they remember fondly. 

    Kate was our “Operations Manager” for a year or so. She fit in perfectly as within the first few hours on the job we were razzing her about everything imaginable and she took it like a champ, and then threw it back at us just as well. Always with a smile, she was a voice of reason in a room full of monkeys many days.

    Leah was a graphic designer for us, and I’m pretty sure she thought we were insane. She would roll her eyes at many of our stupid ideas, and then she would laugh the whole time she would execute said stupid idea. Such a great personality and I am so glad that she has gone on to some super cool things.

    Jeanna was a graphic designer like 10 minutes out of school. A sharp wit, and a personality that would light a room, she also was a seriously talented writer and so I would pillage her talents mercilessly and was so proud at her results. She was so good at what she did that she left after a few years to become the Creative Director at her alma mater due to her experience with us, and I couldn’t be more proud for her. 

    Ben Weber was the elder statesman at EXPLORE, having worked with me for right at 10 years. I could write a book, but I consider him a great friend. He and I went fishing at the coast, drove to Lubbock for a Tech game (we are both graduates), we both hugged one another as my brother died, and as his dad died. We complained about spouses, (and celebrated them) we laughed at our kid’s birthday parties, and we still talk to this day frequently. He would come up with ideas that were equally as crazy as mine, and was so talented as he would leverage his design skills as well as his photographic skills to create many of the most memorable layouts the magazine has ever presented. He truly left his mark, not only on the magazine, but on me personally. Ultimately he took a great position with United Supermarkets in Lubbock, is doing fantastic, and I miss him like mad but am so happy for him.

    And there are others. Alison. Tammy. Laura. Kristy. “Bear” our delivery guy. Heck, my kids used to help me with distribution when they were little. There’s a lot of folks that have their fingerprints on this little publication, and I’m thankful for all of them.

    And thank YOU, dear reader. Without you, none of this fun would ever have happened. Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting the advertisers, thank you for the notes of encouragement, thank you for everything. I’m eternally grateful at the life and the relationships you have allowed to happen, and I hope you know what it has meant to me and my children.

    Thanks for everything,

    Ben

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    For this issue, I reached out to a few folks that used to work on EXPLORE and asked them to just share a few thoughts on their time with the team and what they remember fondly. 

    BEN

    It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. No… really. From hopping on a too small Razor scooter donned in a dirtbike chest protector and a girl’s skateboard helmet to make fun of the brand new, ridiculously steep sidewalk on School St. the city was so damn proud of. To working roughly 80 hours in 5 days to produce the first ever (maybe in the world) fully 3D magazine. That included the ads as well. There was almost never a dull moment at EXPLORE. We laughed. We cried. We yelled obscenities at each other and made fun of asinine comments made by clients and advertisers. All of whom are no longer in the mags because everyone in here now is the absolute BEST and always completely reasonable.  

    For 10 freaking years, my official title was “Creative Director”. Long time readers and or advertisers may remember me as the Creative Ninja. Design Monkey and Pixel Pusher were a couple of the unofficial titles I held. Basically my job was to take the ever changing puzzle that were the pieces of the magazine and produce the beautiful, as of yet to win an award publication you hold in your hands today. I did layout, ad design, and the most fun part, photography for EXPLORE. Though, what I think sets it apart from other publications is its ability to not take itself too seriously.

    EXPLORE is an insanely eclectic collection of deeply insightful pieces. From Ed Davis’s Old, and the one article I actually wrote about a road trip to an air show that brought back a lot of memories about my dad who had recently passed (On the Wings of Steel Eagles). To fun profiles on Jay Milton, who started a national movement with the Boerne .5K. To coming up with appropriate (and inappropriate) images and graphics for the infamous Old Timer. I did a lot of fun and interesting projects for EXPLORE but I think my favorite of all time has to be one of the few times I was the one in front of the camera.

    Let me set the scene for those of you who may be new to the area. Which I hear is probably most of you. The City of Boerne was in the middle of a campaign to make Boerne more friendly to pedestrians. This included new crosswalks on Main St., which to this day I regret we never took the time to TRULY make fun of, and also a brand spanking new sidewalk on School St. running from First Baptist church to the dentist’s office two thirds of the way to the river. A couple of things you newbies need to realize about this. First, putting a sidewalk in this location doesn’t actually solve a problem, considering it’s about a mile from where all main foot traffic is in B-town. Second, and MOST importantly, this section of road is on a hill that is roughly a 95 degree angle. There’s no freaking way this made anything more accessible to anyone. Oh, and they decided to end the sidewalk at the bottom of the hill with a dead end curb painted red. We hope it was paint. This was too good to pass up. So we had a little brainstorming session about what would be the most ridiculous thing we could think of to make fun of this. Thus, Olaf was born. A goofy witless newcomer from the Fatherland who is one day walking along and happens upon the sidewalk of doom. What ensued was at least an hour of taking photos of me wearing a pink skateboard helmet and motocross chest protector while riding a much too small Razor scooter down the hill. Then embellishing what would most certainly happen to someone if they actually tried to descend that stupid sidewalk. We damn near laughed our asses off the whole time. Then it was back to the office to put together a comic book style article that ended with Olaf flying through the air, landing on the banks of the Cibolo, and coming out unscathed if not sans a few teeth.

    We had plans to make Olaf a semi recurring character in EXPLORE. Making fun of the new crosswalks, the metal fishing piers on the river, and the ducks. Unfortunately, producing something like this was a lot of work. Fun as hell. But a lot of work. In the end Olaf was born on the top of School St. and died on the banks of the Cibolo. But he will forever live in the pages of EXPLORE and my heart.

    -Ben Weber

    JEANNA

    My first assignment for the Hill Country Explore was in a town I’d only driven through, with a person I’d never heard of, about a subject with which I wasn’t too familiar. Dusty Pendleton sat waiting for me at Brick’s River Cafe, cold beer in hand. I steeled my nerves—It was the first time I ever drank on the job.

    He didn’t know it then, and I didn’t know it then, but Dusty Pendleton would become a steadfast figure in my life for years to come. I never saw color the same after I spent time with Dusty (5 hours, to be exact, to which Ben replied when I got back to the office: “You can’t spend that much time with everyone you interview!” and boy was he wrong!). Purples, pinks, and blues became staple hues in my design palette; dawn and dusk became times to not just look at colors, but to listen to them, to feel them, to live into them. Did you know caliche has a color? I didn’t either, until I saw Dusty’s painting of West Texas sunset reflecting off a rocky pathway, a cold spring babbling beside. My whole perspective changed: pause, reflect, experience. It’s served me to this day.

    Fast forward 18 months, and I’m on one of my last assignments: THE Robert Earl Keen for Comanche Trace magazine, at his home in Kerrville. Up the winding stairs to his music room, and what do I see illuminated on the wall? A Dusty Pendleton. I fan-girled, and not in the way Mr. Keen was expecting. It was a conversation starter, to say the least.

    More than a decade later, my design skills may be a little, well, dusty—but my life IS living color. My two beautiful children are orange and red and neon blue, full of light and energy (my 4-year-old even says his favorite colors are fuchsia and chartreuse). My brilliant husband is vibrant green and yellow and turquoise. My purples, pinks, and blues have never left—brighter these days, but still there, beckoning a pondering, a reflection. They remind me to slow down, to taste, to listen, to wonder, to experience—to explore.

    I’m grateful for my time with the Hill Country Explore, not only for giving me Dusty, but for so much more. I learned what it means to be a part of a family made of friends. I got to experience Boerne before the I-10 expansion and the HEB debacle; I got to smell the Hill Country from my apartment balcony. I got to road-trip Texas and get paid for it (I sure pulled that one over on Ben, huh?)! Most of all, I made memories that will stay with me for a lifetime, and will help guide me down all the back roads and dirt paths I can find—boogeying to REK along the way.

    -Jeanna Goodrich

    Kate

    I worked at SMV around seven years ago…As a Boerne native who had recently moved back, I was excited to get involved. During my year and a half-long employment at SMV, 

    we encountered some mayor changes. First, Ben found out his brother had cancer, I found out I was expecting my second child, a daughter, and SMV launched a brand new magazine, Company. This was a lot for an office of three. To dive in a bit further, Ben’s brother was not responding to his treatment and I was put on bed rest the third trimester of my pregnancy. 

    I will say in all of this chaos, our grief and struggle made us all closer. We were a work family. God works in mysterious ways, but I can tell you that this dynamic is legit, they have your back for whatever is going on in your life. Ben held SMV close to his heart and continued to look ahead even if it was hard too. My time at SMV was amazing, but on a different level, a level of forming friendships and trust with those you work with. Would never trade it. 

    – Kate Kent

    Leah

    During my time at Explore, I made many fond memories not just in the office with the Bens, but also out in the field getting stories. In the office, there’s no telling how many times I walked into the dulcet sounds of Axl Rose saying “Welcome to the Jungle”. Every time I hear that song, it takes me back to that small office the three of us shared. Writing for Explore not only kept my writing skills in check, but also enabled me to live out some adrenaline filled experiences through the “Bucket List” series. No matter how crazy my ideas got, I always got the same response, “DO IT!” I don’t get back to Boerne as much as I like since moving, or seeing the Bens, but I will always enjoy thinking back at my time with Explore with admiration.

    Update of what has happened to me since I left:

    I worked at CBHarper and AAM for a bit, and then met my husband Ryan. I lived in Boerne until 2016 and then moved to Dallas for 2 years and got a job at Rebel Athletic, but decided we hated living in Dallas. Then we built our camping rig and hit the road in May of 2018 while working remote for Rebel Athletic.  We drove all the way up to Alaska in it and decided to stay for a bit. We lived up there and worked remote for Rebel and part time at Echo Magazine. Work ramped up at Rebel, so I had to leave Echo…then Covid-19 hit. So then we decided living up in the white north was not wise anymore and drove back down. We just finished moving all our stuff last weekend to Montana, where we’re still traveling/camping every weekend.

    -Leah Bredemeyer