A rainstorm generates camaraderie among strangers under a bridge

As I headed southwest through Missouri on June 17, I stared at a raincloud that kept getting closer. Having been wet through most of Indiana the day before, I didn’t want to repeat the experience. The problem was the lack of any accommodations—not even a pole barn along the road. Just when I reached the storm front, there was an overpass, a little county road going over Interstate 44, and I took shelter.

Heavy rain started to fall within two minutes.

Soon I had company. Chris White, of St. Louis, arrived under the overpass, too. I moved my bike forward to make room for his. He’d been caught in the first deluge and had a hard time seeing through his wet windshield, but peering over it was unbeneficial because he wore an open-face helmet.

He was heading near Springfield to camp out with some friends. Hearing that California was my destination, he remarked that I was traveling light. Owning a motorcycle was always his dream, he said, and a year ago he found his Honda with 9,000 miles and paid $900 for it. He’d since doubled the mileage. This summer he planned to ride to Maryland.

Then Jared Elmore, of Madison, Wisconsin, stopped his truck and opened the hood. The engine was overheating. Was mechanical help nearby? White said the city of Rolla was only 10 miles away; it wouldn’t do lasting harm to drive that distance. Elmore was on his way to the Ozark Heritage Festival in West Plains. He wasn’t on the bill but would be playing his banjo with friends.

White pulled out his smart phone and looked at the weather radar on the website of St. Louis TV station KMOV. The line of showers extended from the northwest, around Kansas City, far to the southeast across the belly of the state, but it wasn’t terribly deep. We took hope that we wouldn’t be here too long, with traffic whizzing past.

Indeed, within a few minutes, the rain stopped as abruptly as it had started. White had just finished suiting up in his rainwear, but I was confident of staying dry. Elmore said he had a phone in case of further trouble, so I blotted the splatter off the saddle and jumped onto my scoot, wishing both men well.

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