I stopped at the South Carolina Welcome Center to add a waypoint to my map and use the wifi before heading off to find some lunch. My satnav offered a list that included Hooters in Anderson, just off my route. I have never visited one of their restaurants and decided to do a little research. After all, it is odd is that this particular business concept should have originated in America; a rather prudish country by European standards.
I had a surprisingly pleasant chat over lunch with Hooter Girl, Kristi; hearing all about her modelling career and her ambitions for the future. Though feminists may fulminate about a hiring policy that is openly based on female sex appeal, I have to say I found the place completely harmless - and had a really good salad too.
The experience finally proved to me (and if my course organiser from the National Geographic programme in New York is reading this, I am very sorry) that I am too shy ever to be a people photographer. Hooters encourages customers to take photos of the Hooters Girls - even offering prizes for the best published on Twitter. Kristi would - I am sure - have had no problem with being photographed. Yet I couldn't bring myself to ask her. If I can't ask a photogenic Hooters girl with a modelling background to pose for a photo, then I am clearly never going to make it as a street photographer.
A little later I found my way past impressive security to my friend's home in a gated community on a South Carolina mountain. Amongst the trees that formerly concealed the activities of local moonshiners, a novice developer built a very beautiful place for over 300 people to live, complete with wellness centre, golf club and other shared facilities.
Before dinner we went up to the pavilion at the top of the mountain where there's a barbecue area for residents and a spectacular view over the local countryside. A couple of families were having supper together in the sunshine. My friend introduced me, explained my bizarre mission and I received the usual words of encouragement. I shall miss American enthusiasm when I get back to miserabilist London.
Back home with my friend and his wife, it was good to reminisce over dinner and drinks about the very similar happy times we both had building our respective practices in Eastern Europe; he in Moscow throughout, and I in Warsaw and Moscow. It was good too to be in a home. Hotels are all very well, but much as I am loving my life on the road, I am beginning to think fondly of my own modest apartment!
Before that, however, there is still much to see. This is the revised routing to the end of my tour. Only just over 1,000 miles to go. After covering almost 14,000 miles so far, it seems a trifle.