Cool Bus Houston Crawfish Crawl!

On Saturday, April 28th, we hosted our first ever Houston Crawfish Crawl as we visited 5 top spots that are usually on everyone's list when it comes to "Best Crawfish in Houston".  Each place had it's own unique flavor and offered something the other one didn't.  You really can't go wrong at any of these places,  Below is our recap of each stop, so sit back and enjoy the "ride"...get it?!  Because of the Cool Bus ☺   

1.       The Boot – We started our trip by meeting at The Boot when they opened at 11am.  Needless to say, we didn’t have any issues getting a table as we had our pick of the place haha!  The crawfish had a good taste and they were a large size…think tiny lobsters. They were cooked Cajun style which meant they didn’t have a bunch of spices or additional seasonings on the outside.  They soak in the seasonings in the water allowing for the spices to get in to the crawfish. You will hear about Viet-Cajun crawfish in the next few stops. The spice level did leave our lips burning for a while after we were done.  There is also a 2lb minimum on their orders FYI. - www.thecajunboot.com - 1206 W. 20th St, Houston, TX 77008

2.       Hanks Cajun Crawfish – Next stop was Hank’s Cajun Crawfish in Chinatown.   This is one of my favorite places! They have 5 flavors – Mild, Medium, Spicy, X-Spicy and New Orleans Spicy.   We ordered X-Spicy and Mild for the table. The mild is a good taste with a small, subtle kick, but the X-Spicy is where it’s at!  The spice is a slow burn as it doesn’t really kick in till crawfish number 8-10. It will definitely make you sweat and your nose run, so get the napkins ready!  Our lips were definitely burning by the end! Highly recommend to order a side of garlic bread with your order so you can soak up the juices at the bottom of the tray.   The venue is pretty small (can only accommodate approx. 40-50 people) so be prepared to wait if you decide to go on a Friday or Saturday night. hankscajuncrawfish.com - 10800 Bellaire Blvd G, Houston, TX 77072

3.       LA Crawfish Shack – Our 3rd stop was another popular crawfish stop in Houston, LA Crawfish Shack located at Harwin and Gessner.  This venue was definitely bigger than Hanks, but the crawfish were noticeably smaller. They offered multiple flavors and spice levels.  We went with the spicy lemon pepper, spicy cajun and mild traditional. Of the 3 flavors + spice combos we got, we all agreed that the spicy lemon pepper was the best.  They made us sweat and gave us all a runny nose too. There was a pretty thick sauce on top of the crawfish, most likely from tossing them in seasonings post cooking.  lacrawfishshack.com - 5858 S. Gessner, Houston, TX 77036

4.       LA Crawfish - We ventured over to the corner of Richmond & Weslayan for stop #4 at LA Crawfish – no relation to LA Crawfish Shack…at least I don’t think so.  LA Crawfish serves viet-cajun crawfish. This is a relatively new style that has been taking over Houston and has a different flavor than the normal Cajun style you might be used to at your neighborhood backyard crawfish boil.   Viet-Cajun crawfish have spices and herbs added after the actual boil. Each restaurant has it’s own unique recipe but most places use melted butter, A LOT of garlic, cayenne pepper and other Asian ingredients like ginger and lemongrass. We ordered the 3 flavors that are offered – Garlic Butter, Cajun Run and Hot & Sour.  We all thought that the Garlic Butter flavor was the best of the 3 flavors. Overall we thought they had the best offering of the restaurants thus far, granted they weren’t the spiciest, but still a good burn on your lips.  thelacrawfish.com - 3957 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027

5.       BB’s Café Houston Heights – Our final stop was one of the most popular places in Houston to get crawfish – BB’s Café on White Oak Dr in the Heights.  This place is always full and definitely be expected to wait for a table if you want to dine on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon during crawfish season.  Their crawfish are some of the best in Houston and they didn’t disappoint when we showed up. The crawfish were large in size and had great flavor, but they were even better if, after you peeled them, you dipped the meat in the sauce at the bottom of the tray.   If that didn’t do it for you, they also offer multiple types of dipping sauces.  bbscafe.com2701 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77009

Better A/C finally installed!

When I first opened Cool Bus Houston and I was in the process of setting the bus up with A/C, I went to a number of companies to get quotes and find out the best way to cool down the bus.  Quotes ranged as little as $2000 and as much as $12,000 and the options were either a roof top unit powered externally or A/C that would be installed inside the bus and run power through the bus engine.  I wound up installing a roof top unit similar to what you would see on a RV.  I went to Camping World to get it installed and with their recommendation, I thought I was set. 

As the months went on, I quickly realized that the A/C unit that I had just wasn’t doing the job.  Sure it would cool down the bus to an extent.  It would only run for a few hours before the external generators that were mounted on the rear of the bus to power the unit ran out of gas.  It was a whole process trying to remove the generators from the compartment and to fill them up and then put them back in place. 

Needless to say, I was frustrated with everything that went in to running the A/C.  Luckily the weather was on my side for the first half of the year so A/C wasn’t necessary, but I knew a change had to be made. 

After doing some more research, I finally came across Bus Air Manufacturing out of the DFW area.  They had been around since 1992 installing A/C in school buses, fire and emergency vehicles, utility and parcel trucks and off road heavy trucks.  They say “If it has wheels, we can create a climate control system for it.”

I finally got a quote and a timeline for installation.  The only issue was that I was going to have to find a way to get the bus from Houston to Rhome, TX (just north of Fort Worth) where their shop was located.   Sure I could drive it, but that would’ve taken around 6-7 hours due to the fact that the bus doesn’t go over 60 mph.   I was able to hire a trucking company to transport the bus to the facility and save me a lot of time.

After about a week, the bus finally made it back to Houston with the new A/C installed!  As soon as I could, I got inside the bus and cranked it up and it was awesome!  It cooled the bus down in under a minute! 

The next few parties on the Cool Bus were during July & August, some of the hottest months in Houston, TX.  I could not have been happier that I was able to install the new A/C because all of my customers loved it!

One thing I’ve learned while running this business is that nothing is going to come easy – especially when it comes to matters of bus mechanics. 

With adding such a large electrical load to the engine, it was just a matter of time before issues popped up.  The installer at Bus Air said that I might want to take a look at my alternator as he thought it might not be big enough to power the A/C plus all the other items I had on the bus. 

Well it turns out he was right.  The more rides I did, I could tell there were issues with the power as there were times where the subwoofers would cut out or the LED lights inside weren’t working.  I knew I had to get this fixed to make sure the bus was fully operational to give my customers the full Cool Bus Houston experience.

I took the bus in to Finch Alternator & Starter Rebuilder to search for a solution.  With their recommendation, I wound up installing a 200 amp alternator that was bigger than the 140 amp alternator that was originally installed. 

On my next ride, with A/C at full blast and music and lights fully operational, the larger alternator held up and did the trick!   

2nd Annual Mullet Fishing Tournament in Seadrift, TX

I was always curious as to how far I could take the bus away from Houston.  Well, the weekend of June 24, 2017, I got to push the bus a little further than I had before.

We were booked to host the guys participating in the 2nd Annual Mullet Invitational Fishing Tournament in Seadrift, TX.

Seadrift, TX is about 150 miles from my house in Houston and according to Google Maps, only 2 ½ hours away.  Well, the morning of 6/24, Mother Nature decided to put me through some tests and brought down some pretty nasty weather as I was on the road.  Visibility was very low and so was my speed.  I had yet to drive through something like this before so I wasn’t taking any chances.

A 2.5 hour trip turned in to a 4 hour detour as I made my way out of Houston and down southeast Texas.  On the way, I made sure that Cool Bus Houston stopped and introduced itself to a Texas tradition, Buc-cee’s!

Cool Bus Houston party bus and Buc-cee's

After finally making it to Seadrift, I picked up a handful of guys and made our way to Port O’ Connor for the post-tournament festivities.  The guys kept with the theme of the tournament and they all continued to wear their mullets throughout the night.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Our first stop was Hurricane Junction where dinner was served, winners announced and raffle prizes handed out.  They even had a live band that was unfortunately cut short, due to the inclement weather, so everyone hopped on the bus and we began our bar crawl around P.O.C. as we hopped between Josie’s Cantina, Madden’s and Hurricane Junction over the next few hours.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

We finally made it back home in Seadrift by 2am and David, the host, was kind enough to let me crash at their house for the night so I didn’t have to drive all the way back to Houston late at night.

After a good night’s rest, I woke up refreshed and hit the road back to Houston.  This time it only took me about 3-3.5 hours to get home.  Not because of any inclement weather, but just the fact that the bus doesn’t go any faster than 60 mph!  #slowerthanmolasses

Olivia's Going Away Party

Olivia had only lived in Houston for a few years attending law school before it came time for her to pack her bags and start a new venture in Charleston, SC.  But before leaving this great city, she hosted a Going Away Party for one last night out on the town aboard Cool Bus Houston!

The night was one of the most unique and creative parties I have had the pleasure of hosting in the short time we have been in operation.

Olivia laid out the itinerary of various bars around Houston.  Before each bar, Olivia read a short poem she had written that signified her time in Houston.  She even had a special playlist for the commute between stops!  For instance, we listened to country music on the way to Heights Bier Garten and 80s music on the way to another bar!

You could tell that there was a special place in her heart for Houston, even though her time here was short lived and that she was truly going to miss her friends.

Olivia was kind enough to share one of her poems she wrote and I am very excited to share it with you.

Heights Bier Garten (COUNTRY MUSIC PLAYLIST)

My first year in Texas I had a lot of “Firsts” most days,
I found myself loving the Houston ways,
I went to my first rodeo, and had my first tex-mex meals,
I saw the biggest trucks, with the absolute biggest wheels,

College football, don’t get me started,
Watching those games in a Texas bar is not for the fainthearted,
The first time I heard “hook-em” and “gig-em” by everyone screaming,
I thought it was a different language and that I was dreaming.

I learned rather quickly how much Texas people loved their state,
And all the history and tradition that make it so great,
I may have not grown up with country music and cowgirl boots,
But hey, I blame it all on my roots.

Good luck in South Carolina Olivia!!!

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus - Olivia Going Away Party

Giving Back at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

On Friday, March 24th, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held the Annual Junior Market Barrow Auction at NRG Arena.  The annual auction is one of seven auctions that the Houston Livestock Show hosts that totaled over $15 million in sales in 2017.  The money raised at the auction helped award over $14 Million in scholarships to Texas high school graduates. 

Cool Bus Houston participated in the Annual Junior Market Barrow Auction for the first time in our first year of operation.  This was an event that we were looking forward to for some time.  We want to ingrain ourselves in the city of Houston and give back to the community that has already given us so much. 

Now we didn’t get to purchase the Grand Champion Barrow that went for a world record $212,000 this year, but we were part of a group that raised over $6,000 toward our purchase of Lot 39.  That was Lot 39 out of over 600 lots. 

Here we are pictured with our buying group (The 1500 Club) and the young lady in the middle holding the bronze bowlegged “H” trophy, was the one who raised and showed the pig that we wound up buying.

Cool Bus Houston - HLSR Swine Auction

While we are constantly working on growing our business and trying to book more parties, we will always have time to give back to Houston and especially the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

For those that don’t know a lot about the “The world’s largest celebration of agriculture, education, entertainment and Western heritage”, the 85th annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo drew a record-breaking 2,611,176 visitors during the 3 week span from March 7 – 26, 2017.  Over 33,000 volunteers take time out of their day year-round to help ensure that the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a world-class entertainment experience.

Check out a few of the parties on Cool Bus Houston!

Its been a while since I last posted and needless to say, Cool Bus Houston, has been quite busy since then!  In the 10 weekends since our last post, we have been booked for parties in 9 out of those 10 weekends! 

We have hosted parties that range from graduations, birthdays, fundraising events, bachelorette parties, weddings, high school prom and even spent a night with a film crew as they shot footage of a night out on Cool Bus Houston for an upcoming online TV special!   We even had our first repeat customer during this time! 

The experiences that we have been able to provide have been nothing less than memorable.  To be able to say that we were a part of each of our guest’s special celebration (whatever it may be) is exactly what Cool Bus Houston is all about. 

Here are a few highlights of the parties/events we have hosted over the past 2 months…

On Saturday, March 25th, we were a part of “Hoffathon – A fundraiser benefiting the family of Brian Hoffman” that took place in Humble, TX.  Brian was a close family friend that recently passed away and we wanted to help out any way we could to help raise money.  We brought the bus out to the event and had it set up for guests to come on board and check out.  I think the kids enjoyed it more than the parents did!  We also donated a 5-hour ride that was auctioned off to help raise money, in addition to the numerous silent & live auction items they had donated.  In the end, our donation helped raise $2,200 toward their end goal of over $26,000 for Brian’s family.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus at Hoffathon

Saturday, April 8th, was Clint’s Graduation Party!   We helped organize an itinerary for their night out as they were just looking to bar-hop around Houston and needed some help in their planning.  After we picked the group up in Cypress, our stops included McIntyre’s (Heights), Kung Fu Saloon (Washington Ave), Live! Sports Bar (Downtown) and finished the night off for 80’s Night at Barbarella Houston – a popular dance club in Midtown.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Fast forward to the following Thursday, April 13th, where we hosted Diana Durlam and her group as we celebrated her husband, Hugh, and his 40th birthday!  We picked the group up in Katy and took them to eat down in Sugarland.  The group met up with about 20 of their other friends for dinner at Bacon Brothers Public House.  They followed up their birthday meal with some birthday karaoke at Jack’s for Cocktails located at Wilcrest and Hwy 59. 

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

On Friday, April 28th, a group of 8th graders from Creekside Intermediate boarded Cool Bus Houston to celebrate their 8th grade dance!  Following their pictures at Helen’s Gardens in League City, we picked the group up and took them to their celebration at Top Golf.  After Top Golf, we drove around League City for approx. 30 min before heading home.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

The following day, we had the great honor of being a part of Elisabeth & Ryan’s Wedding!  We picked up the bride’s extended family from Cypress and dropped them off at the wedding ceremony that was taking place at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  After the ceremony, we provided transportation to their reception located at the Houston Zoo.  Once the reception ended, we took the family back to their house in Cypress.  I remember that the forecast showed a big storm that would roll in to town around the time I was taking everyone home, but luckily it wasn’t as bad as predicted and didn’t cause any issues with our transportation.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Ivonne’s Bachelorette Party was held on Cool Bus Houston on Saturday, May 6th.  We picked everyone up from their house in League City brought them to Uptown Park where they initially planned to go to Belvedere, but the bar wasn’t open till a little later in the night.  So we called and audible, and we dropped them off just a couple hundred yards away at The Tasting Room.  We followed this up with the main event of the night as the girls had reservations at the only male strip club in Houston, La Bare.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Saturday, April 13th was the Cypress Creek High School Prom at the Berry Center.  We picked the group up after dinner at Campioni Restaurant in the Champions area and then drove them to the dance at the Berry Center in Cypress.  After the dance, we were take them up to Hearne, TX where they were to continue their celebration at a family ranch.  Unfortunately, we got a flat tire in Bryan, TX and wound up ending our trip early.  This event is actually its own separate blog post itself.  So stay tuned…

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

And finally this past weekend, we helped celebrate the graduating Class of 2017 from Memorial High School!  We picked up the group senior girls and their mom’s from graduation at the Don Coleman Community Coliseum.  Since this was a short reservation, we only had enough time to drive them to The Heights and take pictures in front of the “Greetings from Houston” wall mural on White Oak Dr and then started dropping everyone off for their evening plans. 

These are just a few of the parties & events that we participated in over the past 2 months and the summer is set to be just as busy as we already have 4 parties on the schedule for the summer months, including providing transportation for a fishing tournament down in Seadrift, TX!

Its Wedding Season!!!

As Spring in Texas arrives, wedding season is upon us! 

Not only can Cool Bus Houston take you from bar to bar or brewery to brewery, but we can provide transportation for your wedding day in a very unique party bus!  

We can do this in a number of ways!  Here are just a few ideas:

1.  Bridal Party Transportation:  We arranged transportation for the Bride and her bridesmaids only from their house in Rice Military to their wedding venue at Ashton Gardens.  All of the girls got their hair and makeup done at their house beforehand.  When we picked them up, they boarded the bus wearing their "pre-game" attire of flannel shirts and yoga pants and carried their dresses on hangers in plastic bags to not get dirtied.  They were able to hang their dresses from the handrails across the ceiling of the bus so they wouldn't get wrinkled.  Once on board, the crew enjoyed a glass of champagne while jamming out to some of their favorite party tunes.  The venue was roughly 30 minutes away from the house, which was just enough time to relax before things got crazy with the ceremony and reception.  

Cool Bus Houston Bridal Party Transportation

2.  Wedding Party Transportation:  We met the wedding party (minus for the Bride) at the Lakeside Country Club and transported them Memorial Drive United Methodist Church.   The Bride arranged for her own transportation to the church so that she and the groom wouldn't see each other before she walked down the aisle.  We waited in the parking lot until the ceremony was over and picked up the full wedding party (Bride included!) for transportation back to Lakeside Country Club to kick off the celebration!  

These are just a couple of options that we have done to give you some ideas.  However, Cool Bus Houston can customize a wedding package to suit all of your needs! 

Brewery Tours are starting to take off!

Houston's craft beer scene is rapidly growing and it seems like new breweries are popping up all over the city and surrounding areas every few weeks.   Just off the top of my head, I can count around 10 breweries in Houston, but I only know so much!  According to this article from BeerChronicle.com, there are over 30 breweries in Houston and surrounding areas!   That's crazy!  

Out of the 4 parties we hosted in January, two of them were birthday parties that wanted to participate in the growing trend of "Brewery Tours" around Houston where we visit anywhere from 3-5 breweries over the course of their reservation.  Of course, the longer the reservation, the more breweries that we could visit!

For one party that we hosted-  Ryan's Birthday Brewer Tour - we started the day by visiting Saint Arnold's Brewing Company, followed by 8th Wonder Brewery, Eureka Heights Brewing Company, and finally Brash Brewing. 

Our 2nd party - Charlie's 40th Birthday - we visited Eureka Heights Brewing Company, 8th Wonder Brewery, and City Acre Brewing Company. 

The "Brewery Tour" party is quickly becoming one of our more popular events that our customers are requesting!  Not only are you (probably) trying out a few places and beers you may not have previously experienced, but you are also doing it with a designated driver behind the wheel of your party bus, which allows for everyone in the group to participate in the fun! 

It' a great way to kick-start your weekend on a Saturday afternoon or spend your Sunday Funday!  For you parents, I'm sure its a lot easier (and cheaper) to get a babysitter on a Saturday afternoon than Saturday night as well.   And don't forget, you can always BYOB on The Cool Bus so you can keep the party going as we travel to the next stop! 

Give us a shout (713-805-2690) or fill out the information on our QUICK QUOTE page for pricing and availability.  

Cool Bus Houston at the Bridal Extravaganza!

2017 started off with a very busy weekend as we had our first experience set up at the Bridal Extravaganza, but definitely not our last! 

This was a good way to see just how beneficial a trade show like this could be for our business as well as a way to directly see the return on our financial investment to reserve a space and decorate our booth.

The Bridal Extravaganza was held Saturday, January 6th and Sunday, January 7th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Downtown Houston, TX.  Over 10,000 Brides and their entourages attended the event and it felt like just about every one of them stopped by our booth! 

Cool Bus Houston at the Bridal Extravaganza in Houston, TX

As you can see we had the Cool Bus set up with a couple of tables in front.  One with a "Register to Win a FREE Ride" and the other with a TV with our promo video (Click HERE to watch it again!) running on a loop.  

It was an awesome & fun experience being able to meet and interact with so many people!  People always say that it doesn't feel like when you love what you are doing, and that couldnt be more true for me after this weekend.   Where it might have felt like work to stand for 6+ hours each day, on a weekend, and talk to people, for me, I don't think I ever got tired of talking to people.  I was so excited to talk about the bus and the services we offered.  I was even more excited to see them actually get on board the bus and watch and hear their reactions.   

Throughout each day, we snapped quite a few pictures of the guests in front of the bus and with our fancy Instagram frame that we made especially for this event.  Check them out below...

A few brides definitely had their acts together and knew exactly what they wanted as their wedding was only a few months away.  Other brides seemed like they were getting "Information Overload" as they were still in the early stages of their wedding planning.   The closest wedding we had was literally 2 weeks away on 1/21/17.  The wedding that was the furthest away was set for October 2019!!!

When it was all said and done we collected over 1,400 email addresses!  Even more importantly, we have booked 4 rides to-date and are in negotiation with a few more customers!   

The Bridal Extravaganza was a fun & eye-opening experience that I am very anxious to participate in again!  Can't Wait! 

 

December was a good month

After the 3 rides in 3 days, things didnt slow down.  I completed 3 more rides through the rest of the month of December and all were successful.  

The first was Friday, December 16th for an Ugly Christmas Sweater & Christmas Lights Tour of Houston.  I picked up the group of 14 out in Katy and we started by stopping by one of the more intricate Christmas Lights setups in town.  The house was off of Pin Oak and has now celebrated 10 years of synchronized lights around their house.  In fact, the whole block participates in the synchronized lights! 

After we drove around Katy, we made our way to dinner at El Tiempo on Richmond Ave.  Once dinner was finished we visited the River Oaks area to look at more Christmas lights.  River Oaks is  known for their extravagant displays and is a must if you want to view Christmas Lights in Houston, TX. 

About an hour later, it was time for some bar hopping!  We visited Clutch & Kung Fu Saloon on Washington Ave as well as Irish Cowboy in Midtown.  

Our final stops were in The Heights as we took in some of the lights in that area before we made a quick pit stop at Little Woodrows.  Finally we called it a night and wrapped up by 1:45am.  I think I finally got the bus back by 2:45am.  

For those looking to check out Christmas Lights, I would recommend this site - http://www.houstononthecheap.com/best-christmas-lights-in-houston.

Our next ride was on Thursday, December 22nd, as we continued the Ugly Sweater theme.  We picked everyone up at the Club Quarters Hotel in Downtown Houston before venturing to Chuy's Mexican Restaurant.  After dinner we went back through River Oaks to look at Christmas Lights and cruise around.  

We wound up going to the Gingerman in Rice Village and following it up by going to Clutch on Washington Ave.  The group didnt stay too long there before they wanted to go ahead and head back to their hotel and call it a night.  We ended the night around 12:30pm.  

Our 3rd and final ride of December came on Friday, December 30th.  This was for Windsor's 30th Birthday Party in Galveston, TX.  We picked the group up around 9:45pm and made our 1st stop at the Tremont Rooftop Bar.  After about an hour, we picked the group up, drove up and down the seawall for about 30 minutes before heading back to The Strand and making our 2nd stop at Yaga's.  

The night ended at Bubba's Sports Bar on Tiki Island before we dropped everyone back off  

Bring on some world travelers!

Last week we hosted the German Marshall Fund Marshall Memorial Fellowship program as they took a tour all over the City of Houston.  We picked up the group of 7 Europeans (representing such countries like France, Austria and Romania, to name a few) from their hotel downtown and began our journey around H-town! 

We wanted to take advantage of the remaining daylight we still had left so we made our first stop at the infamous Beer Can House which according to their website (http://www.beercanhouse.org), has over 50,000 beer cans on it.  

Cool Bus Houston at Beer Can House

The 2nd stop was the "We Love Houston" sign at the intersection of I-10 and Thompson.  Parking is a little tricky over there so, if you decide to go on your own, it will need to be a quick stop.  

3rd stop was the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park located in front of the Williams Tower in the Uptown District.  This is a popular backdrop for tourists and locals alike.  Many an engagement, prom and family portraits have been taken here.  The waterwall was built in 1985 and renamed after Gerald D. Hines in 2009 for his impact on Houston architecture over the last six decades.

Cool Bus Houston at Waterwall

After the touristy stuff, we needed to get our grub on , so we stopped at Himalaya Restaurant (6652 Southwest Frwy, Houston, TX 77074 - http://himalayarestauranthouston.com) which is some of the best Authentic Indian and Pakistani food you will ever eat!  

From there, we headed to Washington Avenue to take in some of the Houston nightlife and where else do you take some Europeans when they come to Houston, but Rebel's Honky Tonk (5002 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77006 - http://rebelshouston.com) for a little country western dancing and mechanical bull riding! 

One of my favorite scenes from the trip was when we were pulled over on the side of the street waiting for everyone to unload, but the group stayed on the bus and just kept dancing on the bus!

A few more upgrades to the bus

I keep coming to the realization that this whole party bus thing is a constant work in progress.  Maybe one day I will be finished with all the work on it, but for now, I feel like every time I step foot in the bus, I notice something else that I need to add or make an adjustment to.  

This particular time that I worked on the bus, I added the following items:

  1. Exhaust fan in the roof of the bus
  2. New top to the cooler and trash can
  3. Additional interior handrail across roof

The exhaust fan is placed towards the front that actually sucks out the hot air in the bus and allows for more air flow.  Over the past few months, even with the A/C on, it still tends to get a little warm in the bus throughout the evening.  The addition of this fan will not only suck out the hot air, but can also be set up to blow in cooler air to the bus, which will continue to help keep the bus cooler.  

The new top to the cooler and trash can was added because I had heard from a few people that the top might not the be the safest thing on board.  The lids were a little heavy and when people would open and close them, they would slam shut and could've possibly hurt my passengers fingers if they were caught in there.  Also, the sides weren't the smoothest.  

So we wound up taking off the metal top and replacing it with a wooden one and wooden doors.  We were even able to wrap the top in the same black and neon green fabric that is used on the seats so it matches the color scheme inside the bus. 

Cool Bus Houston New Cooler & Trash Can top

The additional hand rail is actually something that was supposed to happen back when I first got the handrails installed back in the summer.  But for some reason, we couldnt find the right style of handrails.  

We also tightened up a few things around the bus like the car charger outlet by the radio console (it had popped out when I was unplugging something) and the connections to the rear view camera as I have noticed that it had been cutting in and out lately.  

My first paid gig!

I am proud to say that this past Saturday I successfully completed my first paid ride!  Now I know you might be asking yourself, "But Lance, I just read a few blogs ago that you did a Mom's Night Out event?" And yes I did, but since that was technically a "test" ride, I'm not going to count that one.  :)  

This past Saturday, 10/15/16, I actually hosted 2 groups.  The first group, Texas A&M C.A.M.P. (Caring Aggies Mentoring Program) - a group of 12 high school juniors and Texas A&M Former Student mentors - hosted their monthly outing in College Station, TX.  I drove the group from Houston to College Station and back starting at 7:00 AM.  When in College Station, the kids toured the Texas A&M Nursing School and Pharmacy School as part of their experience on campus.  Before we departed, we were able to take a group picture in front of the all impressive Kyle Field. We arrived back in Houston and I finally dropped off our last passenger at 4:00 PM. 

My 2nd ride was for the Cy Ranch Homecoming!  I hosted about 14 high school seniors who started the night by eating dinner at Maggiano's in Memorial City Mall before heading to the dance at the Berry Center.  The night started around 5:30pm and finally concluded at about 11:30pm as I dropped everyone off at one of their houses.  

In all, I say it was a successful first day all around.  The bus was tested throughout the day after taking the long trek to College Station and back and then turning around about 1.5 hours later and having the bus fueled, cleaned and ready to go for the Homecoming event.  

Its been a while...

Its been a while and a lot has happened since I last posted.  So lets get started...

Thursday, 9/15/16 - Official launch date of Cool Bus Houston!  This is the day that I finally publicized The Cool Bus and got my name out to the public through all of my social media outlets.  I used the promo video that we filmed back in July and got some great reviews!  To date (11/1), it now has reached 24,265 people and has been viewed over 8.6k times! 

I guess you could say that one negative to being not only the owner of the company, but also the only driver, is that the Cool Bus availability goes with my person availability.  Therefore, the next 3 weekends would not be available for rent as I had already planned on going out of town.  Therefore, the next available weekend to rent out the Cool Bus wouldn't come until October 15th.  

Sunday, 10/9/16 - We spent the afternoon with Alyssa Johnson Conklin and Hickory Lane Photography getting pictures of The Cool Bus in front of landmarks around Houston.  We first hit up NRG Stadium and the Astrodome.  Got a few pictures in front of each and even got some pictures of the Super Bowl LI sign that is counting down the days to the big game in Houston in 2017.  Next we took some pictures in front of Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.  We also got some pictures in front of the wall painting "Houston is Inspired" in Market Square.  We finished up our "on-site pictures" by taking a few pictures by The Grove in Discovery Green.  After all of our location-based photograph was complete, Alyssa took a few shots of the interior of the bus and some of the Cool Bus swag that I've had produced (sunglasses, koozies, and women's tank tops).  The pictures turned out great and Alyssa was so great to work with!  

FINALLY!!!

The Cool Bus has officially been completed!!!  WAAAAHHHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

And it only took 8 months!  

8 months of repairs, maintenance, design, getting quotes, custom fabrication, paint jobs...and a lot of patience.  A lot of patience.  

The exterior graphics are finally complete and I have to say I'm very happy with the way it all came out.  I did feel like I would never get it back as the completion kept getting delayed and moved back, but as much as I wanted to pressure them to complete it, I knew that I should not rush them and allow them to do everything correctly.  

 

 

In addition to the exterior paint and graphics, I also was able to get the inside handrails installed across the roof.  It is actually only 1 really long handrail that is on the passenger side of the bus.  We installed it on this side because it allows for the handrail to go from the front to the back of the bus along with the seating.  The drivers side has the cooler/trash can compartment, so that might not have made as much sense.  

This Friday night we will actually be filming a promotional video for The Cool Bus.  This will be a 45 sec promotional video to be used on the website and all of my social media channels.  I am still working on confirming the route and bars we will visit, but it should be a fun night no matter where we go.  Stay tuned for the video in the coming weeks....coming soon to a YouTube channel near you! 

 

Got a new paint job!!!

he exterior is finally starting to look like what I envisioned all this time.  Last week we completed the exterior paint job and it looks awesome! 

The painters first started off by sanding the exterior of the bus down and removing some the old blue paint that was peeling/chipping away.  Then they had to remove all the light covers, front grill and tape up all the windows before they could begin applying the paint.  They finally covered the bus in a single stage black paint.   Looks pretty sharp if you ask me.

The next step is to add the vinyl for graphics.  Apparently they had to wait a while for the paint to settle before they could apply the graphics.  Therefore, I had to add another week to my timeline and wait just a little longer to get the bus back. 

But they assure me that the bus will be completed this week, either Thursday, 6/30, or Friday, 7/1…just in time for the 4th of July weekend!  I’ll probably drive it a couple of days over the weekend with friends aboard or just cruise it around H-town in high-traffic areas to get the word out. 

I plan on using the next month for a lot of test runs, marketing opportunities and perfecting the operational side of things before I officially open my doors come August. 

First thing I need to do once the bus is complete though, is get some high quality pics of the bus up on the website.   Right now, I just have pictures of what the bus looked like when I bought it simply acting as a place holder. 

I also got some Cool Bus swag recently produced – koozies and women’s tank tops.  I have not yet made a men’s tank top, but those will be coming soon.  I also have my business cards arriving soon and looking forward to having something to start passing out to potential clients to get the word out. 

It’s crazy to think that it’s all coming together and will be here before you know it.  

Interior work, A/C install and yet another issue...

After 3 1/2 weeks of waiting, I finally got a phone call saying that the interior of the bus would be ready.  Well, at least most of the interior would be complete.  The guys working on the bus said that they were going out of town for a week and said I could pick up the bus if I wanted.  This worked out perfectly because I was able to get the A/C installed during this time.  

The work that was completed on the interior to-date was:

  • Paint the interior black
  • Add lighting above the seats
  • Install new upholstery
  • Install security cameras and rear view backup camera
  • Hookup new radio with Bluetooth and USB charging outlets

They still need to install the handrails, connect the cameras to the DVR, and add lighting under the seats.  But that should only take a day or 2 at most.  

I picked the bus up on Wednesday, 4/20 and dropped the bus off to get the A/C installed Friday, 4/22 at Camping World of Houston. 

But another hiccup would be revealed on the way to get the A/C installed.  As I was heading down I-10 to Camping World, where I would get the A/C from, about 10 minutes from my destination, I started to smell something from the engine and my brake light came on.  In addition, the pressure in my air brakes had dropped significantly.  All of the sudden, my brakes locked up and forced me to pull over on the side of the road.  After shutting off the engine, I let the bus rest for about 45 min. I started it back up and the pressure rose back to sufficient level as I was able to drop the bus off to get the A/C worked on.  

I picked the bus back up Tuesday and immediately dropped it off at DI Performance for an inspection.  A few days later, I got the call that the air compressor was faulty and there were multiple leaks in the lines.  They estimated that the repair will take about a week.  

As frustrating as it has been for issue after issue to pop up, I am glad that I am identifying these now as opposed to when I have customers.  I just have to keep delaying the start date of The Cool Bus, so now it looks like the bus won't be ready till Memorial Day weekend, depending on how long the paint job takes.  

As the repairs and fabrication work have been taking place over the past few weeks, I have also gone through DOT (Department of Transportation) training.  I have learned quite a bit of information that will allow me to properly operate under the federal and state rules/regulations as a commercial motor vehicle.  I knew that there would be a lot of information to consume, but I didn't realize how much I would be responsible for as I am running this business in the coming weeks, months and years.  

A wise man once said, "Patience is a virtue"

It has now been 3 weeks since I dropped the bus off to get the interior customized.  They say it should be complete this week, so I'm crossing my fingers.  

One thing I have learned in this whole process, is that when you are dealing with another trade and they give you an estimated timeline for the job completion, go ahead and tack on another week to their estimation.  

I don't want to rush any of these trades that are working on the bus, because I want to make sure that the work they are doing is being done correctly.  But it is a little frustrating that it took 5 weeks for the engine to get fixed and now 3 weeks for the interior.  But like I said, patience is a virtue. 

While I have been waiting, patiently, for this work to finish, I have been taking care of a few other things in the meantime.  

  1.  I have confirmed where I will be getting the exterior of the bus painted.  The same company doing the interior renovation will actually be able to get the bus painted as well.  This will save me the hassle of moving to/from another location and they can just keep it at their shop to begin the paint job.
  2. I am also working on my DOT Certification.  There has been some paperwork and other items I've had to fill out that I wasn't aware of, but are essential to getting the bus up and running as a commercial business.  There are a few online forms and a couple of training sessions that I will need to complete to make sure I am in compliance of the necessary law and regulations.  
  3. Finalizing the design and order for some promotional items - ladies tank tops, koozies and of course, the sunglasses.  
  4. Continuing to get quotes on the graphics.  Now that I have decided to paint the exterior first, the quotes that I received initially from companies in regards to wrapping the full exterior of the bus, are no longer applicable.  I will need new quotes on just adding the graphics as if it were a decal.  For future buses, depending on the condition of the paint job, I should be able to get them wrapped.  

I am hoping to have some pictures of the newly renovated interior by next week that I can post on the site.  

Finally, the fun stuff starts

After 5 weeks of being in the shop, the bus has finally been fixed!  DI Performance did the repair, and after driving it around for a couple of days, so far, so good!  I was able to pick the bus up Monday and I was able to turn the engine off/on with out any issues. 

Now the "fun" work can begin!  I dropped the bus off with Harbros Inc, who specializes in party bus customization on Wednesday.  

They will begin the process of customizing the interior of the bus.  The items we discussed to be completed over the next 2-3 weeks will be:

  1. Install new upholstery with lime green and black vinyl
  2. Install of LED lights under the seats and above the seats that will shine on the interior roof
  3. Paint the interior black.  They will cover up all the blue areas and any other area that hadn't been painted yet
  4. Re-position and installation of new radio with Bluetooth, USB and Aux outlet capabilities.  Radio will be moved closer towards the middle of the bus by the trash can/cooler. 
  5. Installation of 4 cameras and DVR for security purposes.  The cameras will be in position of a dash cam, camera facing the driver, camera facing the cab where passengers will be and a rearview camera to also help in the assistance when moving the bus in reverse
  6. Fabrication and install of handrails across the roof inside the bus
  7. Install of a 110 outlet by the driver seat for phone charging usage
  8. Find and fix the leaks coming from the roof of the bus causing water to get inside

I am very excited that this type of work is finally happening and we are a few more steps closer to seeing the finished product.  

The company will be taking pictures throughout the process and sending them over, so I will eventually be able to post those pictures on the site to see the conversion from start to finish.  

Timing is everything...

Well after close to 4 weeks of the bus being in the shop, the mechanics have finally started making progress on the repair.  They had to replace the lift pump and rebuild the injection pump.  I spoke with the technicians yesterday and they said that the injection pump was in bad shape once they started to rebuild it so it took longer than expected on the repair.  

This should fix the issues that we encountered a few weeks ago when it just died on us when we were driving around one night.  The same issue also caused the engine not to turn over once we shut it off and tried to crank it back up again with in a few minutes.  

They think it will be ready to go by the end of the week.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, its been good timing for this to happen now while the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is taking place.  Since I am heavily involved with the Rodeo, unfortunately a few things with the bus have been put on the back burner over the past couple of weeks.  

So while I would've liked to have the bus up and running, I know it would've been difficult to do any kind of test runs with friends trying to find time in my own personal schedule.  

The good thing is though that with Rodeo taking place, I am able to spread the word about the bus to a lot of people I only see this time of the year.  The friends and peers that I have told are all really excited about it and already want to book rides.  

I have a feeling that once I do "officially" open my doors for business and start utilizing social media in a more meaningful way, things will pick up very quickly.  I am going to have to get used to saying "no" to things that's for sure!