Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 10 March 2006

Will the Bubble Burst?

Wake Forest, North Carolina 

We've been here five days, visiting with the five grandchildren. We leave this morning, hoping for light traffic.

Friday, my faithful companion and I spent a few hours on the motorcycle driving the country roads and looking at new housing going up. This is a mandatory helmet law state, so we don our new helmets for the first time. She is pleasantly surprised by how much more comfortable she is with the new 'sissy bar' that supports her back. She's asking now about an intercom system to support her chatter habit.

Like everywhere we've been the last six months, the new houses are huge and expensive. We stop at an open house and ask the Mexican painters if we can go in. They nod and gesture toward the house. The master bedroom has an ornate ceiling type that I've only seen before in Italian museums. Five bedrooms, three baths, Jacuzzis, granite and marble abound.

People everywhere in the US are heavily investing in real estate. This reminds me of the dot-com bubble and other similarly irrational blooms, like the ostrich farming craze a few decades ago and the great tulip bulb frenzy of the pre-industrial age.

I centre the Microsoft Maps and Streets program crosshairs on Asheville, North Carolina, and search for campgrounds and Chinese restaurants within a 50 mile radius. There are 73 hits on campgrounds and I select one in the Blue Ridge National Park and mark it as the next stop on the route.

A small inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter provides AC power for the laptop. The GPS plugs into a USB port and is attached to the windshield with a suction cup. I take the laptop speakers off mute, to be able to receive spoken directions as we drive. 'Proceed to Route!' comes over the speakers in a female voice.

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