Today was Memorial Day, and by chance we happened upon a small parade in Vicksburg, just after breakfast. It was watched by a handful of people, silent but not sombre. There were old men driving old army vehicles, a police car dragging a golden cannon on a trailer, and even half a dozen men on horseback, dressed as Union soldiers.
Later, in the Cedar Grove Cemetery, we saw that this town still has a complicated relationship with the Union. There, on tall poles, hung the state and Confederate flags, but no Stars and Stripes. Rows of headstones memorialised Confederate soldiers in the Civil War, some of them unknown. Little flags had recently been affixed to many of these graves, and to other, civilian gravestones, and they fluttered brightly in the hot wind. This flag, here, is a deeply complicated symbol.
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.