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.
Since I began planning this trip I'd be looking forward to driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, high in the mountains between Virginia and North Carolina. However, I'd not counted on the weather being so unsuitable.
I set off early, in light drizzle, but by the time I made it to the parkway everything was shrouded in fog. Every few miles I would pass another viewing point, from which I could see nothing at all. I did manage to spot several deer, wild turkeys, groundhogs, squirrels, and a swimming mink. But of the mountains themselves, not a thing.
I made it halfway down the road, then decided to change route and find a shorter path to Asheville. It still took me around nine hours in total, with just a few stops to stretch my legs (and one to visit Linville Falls, during a brief pause in the rain) along the way. Here's what I might have seen, on a sunnier day.