Bismarck, North Dakota.
"Why are you going to North Dakota, sir?" asked the man from the Border Patrol, as his eyes flicked back and forth from my passport photograph (clean shaven) to my face (bearded). "Nobody goes to North Dakota."
After a nine hour flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, I struggled to offer a coherent answer. "Maybe that's a good enough reason in itself", I ought to have said. But I didn't. I shrugged, and mumbled, "I just wanted to see it".
He checked my face, one last time, then nodded me through.
Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota, one of the least populous, and apparently least visited, of the United States. It is also the starting point of my Outriders journey, which will take me from here – close to the border with Canada – all the way south to Louisiana, via the mountains of Appalachia.
Each day, over the next three weeks, I will be posting pictures, videos and observations from the journey.
But first, I need to sleep.
I was one of five Scottish writers chosen by Edinburgh International Book Festival to undertake extraordinary journeys across the Americas in spring and summer 2017.
I travelled through the United States for three weeks, from north to south, beginning in North Dakota, through Appalachia, and ending in Louisiana. For much of this time I was accompanied by the novelist Jennifer Haigh.
You can follow my progress on Twitter and Instagram, and keep up-to-date with all the travellers using the hashtag #Outriders.