~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Outlet Store

In my usual weekend ramble I took the Kawasaki 1600 today; I've put about 300 miles on the Aprilia to the neglect of the big Kaw. No surprise that the bikes are a huge contrast to one another, almost as opposite as two motorcycles could be. The Kaw is comfy, torquey, easy to ride, a relaxing way to motor on down the road. The Aprilia is fast, fairly uncomfortable, and demands attention. There's not much that you could call relaxing about riding the Aprilia but I didn't buy it to relax so I'm happy and satisfied to enjoy the bike for what it is.

After putting some miles on the 110+ HP, 430 lb Falco, the Kawasaki's performance is not as entertaining as it was a couple of weeks ago. Given that I could relax more on the Kaw and have a better understanding of the Aprilia now, I did scout some country roads for a good place to make a top speed run on the Falco one of these days.

So I rambled over to Florence again without really meaning to. It's gotten to be a habit of sorts. I've taken some of my best photographs over that way so it's easy to drift back and look for more. The main feature of Florence, AZ, besides it's hand full of rustic buildings and history, is the big prison there. It's a real prison, not a country club prison, you won't find Martha Stewart there although the experience might be good for her.

Down the street from the prison gate is their own little outlet store, a place where you can buy goods or arts & crafts made by the prison inmates. I love handcrafted stuff and folk art so I finally got around to stopping in there to see what they had to offer. Handmade things usually require a little extra of a person so the object winds up with more personality, and to me, more intrinsic value than factory made goods.

Usually by the time I ride by the prison store it's late in the day and they are closed but with the Arizona weather moderating I was out early today and finally had a chance to stop in and look around the place. It's nothing like the outlet stores found along the freeways these days with the fake discount prices and sterile environments.

The store is Arizona rustic on the outside and isn't fancy but it's clean and tidy. Chalk that up to available cheap labor I suppose. The goods offered are unique and most are obviously hand made. A good selection of basic and some fancy leatherwork, woodcraft, decorative license plates (big surprise there) are offered. Assorted work jeans and somewhat darkly humored t-shirts are available too. Apparently the prison has a screen printing operation run by someone with a sense of humor. My favorite item was a bumper sticker that said "My son was honor prisoner of the week in cellblock C7." I suppose that keeping a sense of humor is essential to surviving in prison and not coming out even more dysfunctional than when you went in.

I have to say it's a bit sobering looking at the merchandise knowing that some soul confined for a good portion or all of his life made the item. People are in prison for specific reasons and I doubt that very many innocent folks are behind the barbed wire but if you have any sense of humanity at all you can't help but feel a little bit of sadness when holding a leather belt or wooden model, for a life gone so very wrong that freedom to move about, freedom live pretty much as you wish, freedom ride a motorcycle, are taken away. We humans have an amazing ability to squander our enormous individual potential.

Still, it was interesting all in all to finally visit the prison store. I should have taken more pictures at the store and I didn't buy anything but Christmas is coming and there's nothing like prison made goods to bring a little flavor to an otherwise ordinary Christmas morning so I'll be stopping in there again.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison