Heroes of the Sunken Texas Battleship
On our About page, we say that CSTX seeks out and shares the Coolest Stuff in Texas. Sometimes though, you don’t have to seek it out at all. As we are learning more and more on our journeys, the real stuff that makes Texas so amazing reveals itself when you aren’t looking for it. This time, the true spirit of Texas rolled up when we really needed it.
Our third day on the road, we headed from Galveston to Houston. We rolled in at about 8pm and headed to grab a bite at The Burger Joint in the Montrose neighborhood. There are only so many places we can park our 40-foot bus, so we were pointed to an auxiliary parking lot on the corner of Montrose and Westheimer. We drove in and parked in a spot facing the exit of the parking lot. I told Hayden and Ben that “it’ll be easier to get out over here.”
That would have been true if that part of the lot wasn’t built out of quicksand.
When we stopped moving, our bus sank about a foot and a half down into the softest sand and clay you’ve ever seen.
I have to stop here for a second and defend myself and my crew. I’ve driven trucks all my life, and have I’ve gotten them stuck and dug out of some of the deepest holes. This bus is just a different beast.
We got out the shovels and started digging and digging. After about and hour, stressed and worn out, we decided to go into The Burger Joint for a bite to eat and a beer. We’ll chill for a sec and go back out and try again.
Tanner and “The Taco”
My buddy Tanner lives in Montrose and came over to join us while we ate. Tanner and I have been best friends since we met at college orientation. He’s the kind of Texan that young Texans should want to be like when they grow up. If he’s not in cowboy boots, he’s barefoot. He’s friendly, well spoken and polite, but not to the point where he won’t tell you that you’re wrong. Apparently he saw the bus up to its ass in mud on the way over because the first thing he said was, “Damn, that bus is sunk!”
We all finished our meals and headed back over to the parking lot to start digging again. This isn’t Tanner’s problem and he has a pregnant wife at home, but as I’m beginning to tell him goodbye he does a swan dive into the sand and mud that’s been piled up around the tires and starts digging the bus out with his hands.
After we dug for about an hour, Tanner pulled up his Toyota Tacoma (he calls it “the taco”) and tried to pull the bus out with our tow strap. To be honest, I think it was way more likely that the weight of the bus would have ripped the entire front end of Tanner’s truck off before the bus moved an inch. Tanner clearly didn’t give a shit. It looked like when a tiny puppy finds a giant stick and can’t quite pick it up. We must have tried 5 times to pull it out before I finally told Tanner to quit and call it a night. Needless to say, the bus didn’t move.
We slept on the now tilted bus in the parking lot over night, but not before calling about 5 different heavy duty wrecker services which all start at about $500 just to show up. No one in the world can afford that, or at least we couldn’t.
Nick, Ruben and the F-350
Hayden was talking with his girlfriend Jordan and told her about our sunken monster. Thank God Jordan had family in Houston and called her brother, Nick. Neither Ben nor I had ever met Nick before, while Hayden met Nick once at a birthday party for Jordan’s uncle JD. From hearing Nick’s response our situation, you would have thought he was our brother. He called Hayden just before midnight, “Yeah man, I called my Uncle Ruben. We’ll be there in the morning and pull you out of there.”
Sure enough, this morning,
Uncle Ruben, Nick and his girlfriend Annie showed up with Ruben’s 1997 Ford F-350. Now an F-350 is a serious pick-up truck, but next to our 40-foot bus, it still looks like a toy car.
We dug more dirt for another hour as best we could, hooked a chain up to the tow strap and then to Ruben’s truck and gave it a go.
The chain snapped like it was dental floss.
Ruben found another chain. A bigger one this time. We laced it back up and gave it another shot.
It tugged… then snapped like slightly stronger floss.
After the second chain snapped, we decided to lose the chain and just use the tow strap. We squeezed and folded the tow strap through the hooks under the back of the bus.
I floored the bus in reverse and Ruben pulled the other way and it finally lurched backward and up onto the concrete. It moved!!!
My nauseau left and my sweat started to dry and we all cheered. Don’t worry, we got it all on video.
As we started to clean up all the shovels and broken chains, I offered to pay for gas, buy lunch, anything. Nobody accepted.
Now, I’m not saying it’s incredibly rare for people to help people when they get stuck in the mud, have a flat tire or what have you. I’m just saying, thank you. There are people all over the State who will pull over to help when they see people who need it; these are the Coolest Texans and Tanner, Nick and Ruben are three of them.
If you didn’t know, the word Texas comes from the Caddo Indian word “Tejas” which means “friend.” The meaning of the word still holds true today.
As Ruben was leaving, he handed us two of his business cards. One from the company where his title is Operations manager, the other was from the Marine Corps League. He said, “If you want to pay me back, the next time you’re having lunch at a restaurant and see a Marine, buy him lunch.”