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.

Our first flat tire experience

Saturday, April 13th was the Cypress Creek High School Prom at the Berry Center.  The itinerary read as follows:

7:00 PM – Pick up group from Campioni Restaurant and drop off at Berry Center for Prom

10:00 PM – Pick up from Berry Center and drop off at Sugarloaf Ranch in Hearne, TX

12:15 PM – Drop off at ranch in Hearne, TX

Needless to say, the itinerary had a few last minute changes. 

As we were driving through Bryan, TX at approximately 11:45 PM at the Boonville Rd exit, my rear passenger side inside tire blew out.  Luckily the exit from Highway 6 to Boonville Rd was a few hundred meters ahead so we quickly slowed down and exited to a safe location.

The safe location was the Kroger parking lot that was well lit and out of harms way.  Once we were safely parked, I called the parents of one of the passengers to alert them of our situation.  They said that they were on their way to come pick the group up in 2 of their vehicles and it would be about 20-30 minutes before they arrived. 

While we waited, I allowed the kids to get some snacks and sodas from Kroger as my treat for the inconvenience.  Once I had a plan for the kids and their transportation for the remainder of the trip (aka their parents picking them up), I was able to concentrate on getting the actual tire fixed and get the Cool Bus back on the road. 

After about an hour of phone calls and going back and forth with various service companies, I was finally able to get a hold of Martinez Heavy Truck and Tire out of Huntsville, TX.  They were able to dispatch a service truck to my location with a new tire.

After the phone calls and finally confirming with the service company it was about 1:15 AM.  They didn’t show up till almost 3:15 AM.  The service tech on site was Billie.  I don’t think I could’ve asked for anyone better to help me in my situation. Billie was great and he was very knowledgeable.  He was very patient with me as I am sure I annoyed him with all my questions. 

He finally finished around 5:00 AM and, after a quick stop to get some coffee and snacks, I was back on the road to Houston.  I finally got home at 7:15 AM Sunday morning. 

It was a very long and arduous process, but in the end, everyone was safe as it could’ve been a much worse situation.  The flat tire happened at the perfect spot on the highway and it happened to the tire that allowed us to still drive to a safe location. 

I never really knew how I would react to an emergency situation like this, but now after going through this experience myself, I feel comfortable that I can put together a strong plan of action and emergency protocol for my future drivers. 

Big Review TV visits Cool Bus Houston!

We reserved Cinco de Mayo, Friday, May 5th, for our filming session with Big Review TV, an online TV series that features the greatest places to shop, eat, stay and play.   Big Review TV was filming various aspects of Houston and thought that Cool Bus Houston would be a great addition to the overall video.  They said that the feature on us would only last about 1-2 min in their 15-20 minute video.  The film crew thought it would be a good idea to ride with on the bus during a normal night out on Cool Bus Houston as we bar-hopped around the city.  So not to intrude on a customer’s party, I enlisted the help of a handful of friends, whom I knew would show the film crew a good time.

Before we met up with the group of friends, the film crew asked if they could do an interview with me, so I met them at a location in downtown Houston that had a great backdrop of the skyline.  This was also the same location that we filmed the time lapse for the promo video last July.  

After a brief interview, we picked up our partying volunteers and hit the road.  For the first hour or so, we just drove around hot spots in Houston like The Heights, Washington Ave, Downtown Houston and Midtown.  We finally made our first stop, and only, stop at Bovine & Barley which has a very cool lit up “HTX” on the wall. 

After a few drinks for the group inside, we loaded the bus back up and made a few passes around a block so the film crew could get some outside shots of the bus passing through downtown. 

After about another hour or so of driving around, we dropped the film crew back off at their vehicles and eventually the rest of the party group. 

The feedback I got from the film crew over the next few days was great!  They said that the footage they shot was just what they were looking for and that they thought it would be a great addition to their Houston feature. 

I can’t wait to see it!

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

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!  

Mom's Night Out

Last night I took a few of my friends out on the town...but this was no ordinary group of friends.  These were all women and all MOMS!  Our plan...to take out the group out to go see the movie "Bad Moms" and then take them out for a few drinks at a bar or 2 downtown.  

So I picked everyone up from one of their houses around 7:00 PM and took them to Sundance Movie Theater downtown for their movie.  The movie last about 1 hr 45 min, so I just parked down the street and hung out while I waited for them to text me once the movie was over.  

After the movie, I picked them up and drove everyone around for about 20-30 minutes while they enjoyed the music and libations before I dropped them off at The Original Okra Charity Saloon.   The girls spent about an hour hanging out at the bar before they called and decided it was time to head on home for the night.  

Once we got back to the house, unloaded and got the bus back to its storage facility, I wound up getting home around 1:30 AM.  Not too bad for a night out on the town hosting these lovely ladies!  

This was the first ride I did where I didnt know most of the people on board and I really enjoyed it!  I'm really excited to get this out to the public, host new faces and have them experience The Cool Bus! 

Cool Bus Houston Mom's Night Out

More DOT Training

Today I met with my DOT trainer to go over pre-trip and post-trip inspections for The Cool Bus.  This is one aspect of operating this business that I did not expect when I wanted to start this, but everything I am learning is very useful and is helping me in covering my butt should anything arise in the future.  And its just good protocols to have in place for a business like mine.  

We went over things like my lights, Emergency exits, fire extinguishers, signage inside the bus, the ever so important white line to stand behind (this is actually what allows people to drink on the bus legally), and even opened up the hood of the engine and went through various parts that I needed to be on the lookout for.  Now I'm not saying after this that I am not a professional mechanic, but it did help me in identifying certain aspects of the engine.  

We also talked about wheels, brakes, and emergency equipment that is mandatory on board a commercial vehicle (fire extinguisher, 3 orange triangles and extra fuses).  Kind of interesting fact though, but there is no rule stating that I must have a first aid kit on board.  Don't worry, I have one, but just thought it was interesting that it wasnt mandatory.  

We also went over Annual Inspections, Monthly Inspections and preventative maintenance schedules.  

There is just so much more to this business than getting a bus, having a cool sound system and lights and learning to drive the vehicle.  #themoreyouknow 

Cool Bus Test Ride numero dos

The 2nd official Cool Bus ride is in the books and had a few more lessons learned and ideas that crept up in the ol' head to further enhance the bus experience.  

Overall, I think the night was a success.  We met at the Sawyer Heights Lofts by Target on I-10 and Taylor Rd around 9:00 PM and promptly hit the road.  Like I planned, we went to Kay's Lounge first which might've been not such a good idea.  The only reason I say that was because Kay's was closing that weekend, so everyone and their mom's wanted to get in on the action and say their farewells to a long time Houston establishment.  Therefore, the bar was packed and our guests had a tough time getting drinks...so not the best start to the night, but we kept on! 

Second stop was in Midtown at Irish Cowboy.  We probably arrived around 11pm and stayed there for roughly an hour.  We had a few of our bus riders peace out at this point and go about their own way for the remainder of the night.  

Around midnight, I picked the remaining folks up and dropped them off at Rebel's Honky Tonk for some late night country western dancing.  As 1:30 AM rolled around, everyone was ready to call it a night.  So we loaded up and I dropped everyone back off and proceeded to head back and drop the bus off.  

I really wanted to get a feel for what an actual night would be like and entail.  I was very curious as to how the timing of everything would work.  I currently keep the bus out in Jersey Village (290 & Beltway 8) so it takes about 30 min to get to/from downtown Houston.  So i wanted to test out the actual process of driving my car to the bus, prepping the bus, driving the bus to the designated pick up location and running the bus through the night.  Then to finally drop everyone off and return the bus, clean it up, and then drive my personal car back to my house.  

After it was all said and done, I think my head hit the pillow around 4:00 AM Sunday morning. And such will be the life of a party bus driver/owner/Ambassador of Fun.  

A few things I learned on the trip - 1) Make sure their is plenty of gas in the generators that power the A/C, 2) Look in to adding more fans in the bus to keep it cool, 3) Interact more with the passengers, 4) Be careful when pulling up to lights and dont stop suddenly in order to prevent people from falling over in the bus, and finally 5) Get another handrail or support beam across the roof of the interior of the bus for people to hang on to.  

Annndddd we're back!

Well, after about 8 days on the shelf, we are back and the brakes are working to perfection!  The brakes no longer lose air pressure in stop and go traffic and the brake chambers even fill up with air faster upon the initial engine start up.  It takes approx. 3-4 min to get the tank full of air, when it would previously take about 8-10 min to completely fill with the necessary amount of air. 

Now its time to take it out on the town again!  This time I am trying to get more of a feel for a what an actual night out on the town will be like.  So more bar hopping and hitting up different areas of town as opposed to the video shoot night when we were mainly in the Downtown and Midtown area.  

Since it seems as though a lot of people are busy this weekend, I am going to set the next ride up for next Saturday, August 20th.   Thinking we will hit up Kay's Lounge one last time before they shut down the legendary Houston establishment and the iconic Texas-shaped wooden table will be no more.