After three weeks on the road, this was my last day of travelling. It began beneath a sun that felt remarkable after yesterday's torrential rain, and a heat that felt remarkable because it seemed, quite literally, to be cooking us in our skins.
We took a tour of the swamp in the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, saw herons and egrets and alligators, and felt ourselves to be in some weird, unfamiliar world. It was beautiful, but somehow terrifying. We drank a lot of water.
In the afternoon we drove north to visit a local writer, Bev Marshall, and her husband Butch, who told us a great deal about the area, about differences between Louisiana and Mississippi (where they both grew up), and about life before integration. It was an eye-opening discussion.
Finally, after yet more driving and yet more rain, Jennifer and I reach our destination: New Orleans. This is a city unlike any other in this country. It feels foreign, and charged with an energy that seems both of another place and perhaps of another time. We wandered the evening streets together in search of food: hungry, glad to have arrived, and yet, more than anything, sorry that our journey was over.
The Mandelay National Wildlife Refuge
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.