A freeway overpass has its advantages when looking for a place to sleep on a rainy spring night in the hills of New York state. First, it is dry under there. And there is a nice flat space just under the bridge, comfortable to lay on and safely out of sight from the road.
It turns out the overpass just out of Liberty, New York, was the first and last such accommodation I have enjoyed the comforts of. All in all I was set for the night just as the night gathered and my tired body was welcoming sleep. I snuggled as best I could in my inadequate war surplus cotton sleeping bag covered with my wool coat for an extra layer against the chilly evening, my head supported by my wooden box of paints. I felt lovely sleep gathering and gave myself up to drifting …
Well, dear reader. A freeway overpass has its advantages when looking for a place to sleep. And it has one little drawback that picked this moment to introduce itself. It started as a distant whine.
An ambitious whine as it turned out. Eager to gain as much momentum as it could on the slight downhill approach to the heavy concrete bridge. The whine grew louder, pulled on by a rumble and roar, ever louder and more eager and frantic.
Then a thump. And another.
And then — WHAM ! — all the demons of discourse were set free. The bridge jumped and rattled. The ground shook. The noise was overwhelming and gained urgency as the shaking and rattling and cacophony of it reached into my bones with the unsettled reality of motion.
And then—thump. Thump. Thump thump. Immediately the rattling and shaking and urgency stopped, replaced by the BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR of a big diesel engine pulling eighteen rubber tires screaming on concrete, receding up the grade headed north.
Well. It was getting dark and the trucks got fewer and fewer. I was dry and tucked in. The sound of approaching trucks working to gain momentum and then smacking onto the bridge and rocking my world before leaving with the rumble of working pistons came to be something of a lullaby, reassuring my sleep that all was as it should be.