WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — What do you do when you have a bus that you pulled from the scrap heap five years ago and there’s a major hurricane coming? You work non-stop for two days to try and get it running to get out of town.
That’s what Key West musician Rock Solomon did when he found out Hurricane Irma was heading toward Florida. The jazz singer bought the bus years ago in hopes of turning it into a mini tour bus, but it ended up becoming a much bigger project. Solomon says it was taking a lot of time and money to restore it.
Then Irma entered the picture.
With the storm focusing on Key West, Solomon knew all the labor he had put into the bus would likely be destroyed if it remained. He and some friends pulled all-nighters to get to bus on the road, but he’s quick to say it’s nowhere near “road ready.”
“No blinkers, no functioning gauges, windows held in by a few screws. It runs. It moves. Not something you want to take to grandma’s house. It’s a miracle I have headlights and brake lights. It’s a wreck,” Solomon said.
With the storm bearing down, Solomon said he worked until the last possible second, he didn’t even have time to go home and pack a bag. While getting diesel fuel, the fuel spilled on his shoes, so he didn’t even have on shoes while making the first part of the drive. He says the drive wasn’t bad at first, but after the first hour it progressively got worse and worse.
“The hurricane was so terrifying it kept me awake despite not sleeping in 72 hours, ” Solomon said. “It was too late to turn back, phone was dead, it had gotten wet, couldn’t call anyone. Just ran in such a rush, no shoes, no way to call anyone, if it had broken down it would’ve been way worse.”
Solomon made it to West Palm Beach, where he waited out the storm. His goal is to get to Wilmington, where his daughter lives. But he’s had some hurtles, except when it mattered the most.
“The day I left the hurricane, I had no problems. It’s bizarre. All that should’ve gone wrong, didn’t.”
Solomon says once he was in the clear, he starting having problems with the brakes, the battery died, the starter died, and he’s had throttle issues. Even now, he’s broken down in Myrtle Beach.
The bus is named after his late brother.
“When I named it, it was kinda like a message to him… about being possible to follow your dreams,” Solomon said.
Without knowing what remains in Key West, Solomon says he might put down roots in Wilmington for a while.
We’ll speak with Solomon once he gets to Wilmington and share more of his story on WWAY News.