In the summer of 2017, I was one of five Scottish writers chosen by Edinburgh International Book Festival to undertake journeys across the Americas.
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. I wrote the diary posts below as we travelled.
My accommodation last night was undoubtedly the most interesting of the trip so far (and I mean 'interesting' in a positive sense). The Balsam Mountain Inn first opened in 1908, and though it's been renovated extensively, it still feels as though it is of another time. The building has a peeling glamour, and its porch houses more rocking chairs than I have ever seen in one place at one time before. I was reluctant to get up and leave when morning came.
My first stop of the day was Cullowhee, and the University of Western Carolina, where I was given a tour of the artefacts in their historical collection, many of them related to the local Cherokee, such as hand-woven baskets and pottery, and others to the large number of 'Ulster Scots' who immigrated to this region.
Leaving Cullowhee I made another of my map reading errors, and took a 'scenic route' west through the mountains, that did not deliver me to Nashville until evening was falling. It included a five minute stay in Georgia, so added another state to my list.
I have done more driving in the past few days than I care to think about. Fortunately Jennifer Haigh will be joining me again for the rest of the trip, so driving duties can now be shared.