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

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! 

 

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. 

Just when I thought I'll get out...they pull me back in!

Just when I thought all was good with the bus, another repair popped up that needed to be taken care of.  

Last time I dropped the bus off at DI Performance to address a situation with the brakes, I was under the impression that it was fixed.  Apparently, after they fixed that issue, this new issue popped up and now I had to get that fixed.  

The issue being that the air brakes would lose air pressure the more and more I was in stop and go traffic.  In fact, on the way home prior to our filming of the promo video a couple weeks ago, the bus actually locked up on me as I was sitting in the lovely Houston rush hour traffic around 5pm.  Luckily we didnt have any other issues that night, but I knew that I would need to get that fixed ASAP before I did another ride. 

The issue is that one of my air valves was leaking along with the brake chambers, my slack adjusters were worn and the air dryer was leaking.  So I have turned it back over to DI Performance for yet another repair.  

I can tell you this much, when it comes time to by my next bus, I will be looking for something a little newer than a 1994 school bus.  So, now I wait and see how long the repair will take.  Stay tuned! 

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! 

 

Let's get this party started...kind of..

It's...About...To go....Down! 

The Cool Bus has been a dream of mine since 2008.  And now it's finally happening! 

I purchased the bus back in November 2015 and have been making repairs and adjustments to it since then.  As soon as I bought it, I took it to get some electrical work done to Ronny's Auto Repair.  On the way to the repair shop, I could not have been more scared driving the bus.  I had no idea how close I was to other cars when I was switching lanes and how far back they were in my rear view mirror.  But I made it safely...whew!  

Upon completion of that maintenance and repairs, I took it to Heitman Truck Repair to get the suspension and shocks repaired.  Still a little scared while driving, there was a little more comfort as I was behind the wheel.  

Heitman called a few days later to tell me the work was completed and it was time to take this bad boy out on its own.  I went and picked it up and drove it from the east side of town all the way up to Jersey Village...in rush hour traffic, which took about 2 hours.  While I was going at a glacial pace for the majority of the time, there were moments when I was able to cruise around the 50 mph range for a few minutes and I noticeable felt much more at ease while driving.  

Over the past few weeks, I have been taking the bus to/from various businesses to get quotes on things like a vehicle graphic wrap, new paint job, interior lighting, upholstery, and the most important thing if I want to be operating in Houston any time between March and October...Air conditioning.  

I am hoping that things will be wrapped up by the end of March/early April.