Most of the time I prefer to live my life very cautiously. I don’t like to take unnecessary chances, and I do everything I can to be safe. Some people would probably say I am boring and cowardly, but I really enjoy being alive and staying in one piece.

There has been a few times during my teenage years that I took some very foolish chances. I paid a high price for some of those actions. Perhaps that is why I am overly cautious today.

In my adult life, I do everything I can to play it safe. I wore a seatbelt before it became mandatory. It doesn’t bother me. I find the idea of flying through a windshield during a car wreck to be much more disturbing than having to wear the seatbelt. 

When I get on a motorcycle, I insist on wearing a helmet. While I am no genius, I am smart enough to know I don’t want to splatter the few brains I do have all over the highway. 

I’m not a big fan of amusement park rides, and I can live without the thrill of skydiving or bungee jumping. I don’t like to do dangerous things. I even consider going to Walmart on Black Friday to be a life-threatening event. 

But once in a while, I find myself growing bored of the same old daily routine. Get up, go to work, go to lunch, go back to work, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Sometimes I just have to throw caution to the wind and let the pieces fall where they may. I feel compelled to go out and do something exciting, something dangerous, something that will cause my wife to give me “that look.” 

When I really want to live dangerously, I might even say something about my mother-in-law. 

Recently the safe and harmless life that I live began to get to me. Hearing the call of the wild, I stepped outside to see where the winds of adventure would take me. I climbed into my SUV, and with the Steppenwolf song, Born to be Wild, blasting on the stereo. I got my motor running, headed out on the highway and went looking for adventure. 

I wanted to do something rugged and dangerous. I wanted to place myself at risk, and do something terrifying, something bold and exciting. 

Recently I have heard a number of reports about the harsh condition of the alleyways in Ark City. I was intrigued, driving through those areas sounded like a true adventure. I decided to give it a go.

Now I was really taking chances. Those roads are rough, rugged, and frightening.. I entered the alley and began my brave journey. 

The trip is not for the weak of heart. As I made my way over rough and uneven territory, I began to have second thoughts, longing for the safety of my couch and the comfort of the TV remote. But I was not going to let this beat me. I gathered up my courage and pressed on. 

I inched along slowly as I made my way block after block, dodging potholes and hanging on for dear life. The alley was narrow, so there was no turning back. I was fully committed now and would have to continue to the end of the road. 

My SUV rocked from one side to the other as I passed over some very treacherous areas. I thought of my wife and son. What would become of them if I failed to make it through alive? 

I finally reached Madison Avenue and decided that I had endured as much excitement and risk as I could stand. For those who might consider making the same journey, keep in mind that you will need a vehicle equal to the task, such as a 4- wheel drive SUV, a large truck or a Sherman Tank. After making the first journey, you will then need to make a second to pick up all the parts that fell off of your vehicle on the first trip.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little, OK, a lot. The alleyways are pretty rough, but they aren’t any worse than any other community I have lived in. 

Most of us will never need to travel these alleyways, but they are important. Utility companies rely on that access to service their lines and keep everything safe and operational. Merchants depend on them for deliveries of goods.  And for some residents, an alley provides the only access to the garage behind their homes.  

Having conquered the fearsome alleyways of Ark City, I find myself ready to face even greater challenges, ones with an even higher risk. Next November, I might summon up all of my courage and go to a Black Friday event. 

If I do, I think I’ll wear a helmet, life jacket and shoulder pads, just to be on the safe side.


CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.