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Tubing event winds up pretty uneventful

Last week, and for the first time this season, I went tubing down the Ottertail River.

Now, you may (or may not) remember a column I wrote about a month ago concerning tubbing, another hobby of mine which involves paddling a large plastic storage tub around a reasonably sized body of water. That is another matter. Today I am speaking of tubing, with the single 'b'.

Tubing (as in down a river, not behind a boat) has developed a reputation of getting somewhat rowdy at times, and I understood that well before I embarked down the river. In fact, that was the main reason I went. I wanted to witness some genuine debauchery -- a drunken brawl, with people simultaneously hurling crumpled beer-cans and terribly insulting (if not somewhat creative) swear words at each other would do.

Don't get me wrong, the wildlife and trees and oneness with nature and everything is great, but I can do all of that (and without the tube-rental fee) by just walking through one of the forests in the area. No, as absurd as it may sound, I went for the people-watching.

I was going to be polite and observe the unwritten rule that you can't stare at anyone for more than 5 seconds at a time, no matter how they are acting. But if I ran into an especially rowdy crowd, I was planning to surreptitiously follow them down the river, casually observing from a distance the drama unfolding before me.

I know to do such a thing may sound rude, but it was to be done in the name of journalism. Therefore, it would be justified.

Well, to be frank, I was quite disappointed as far as the people watching goes, and was forced to do what I had been planning so much to avoid: enjoy a quiet afternoon's ride down the scenic Ottertail River.

Sure, I did run into a few people on my journey, but none of them were demonstrably inebriated or seemed even in the least bit inclined to party. I take that back. There was one group of twenty-somethings who were standing in the water and busying themselves with a game that apparently consisted of throwing a large completely submerged branch at each other.

It traveled underwater quite nicely, as they discovered, and after having this makeshift torpedo hurled at him, one guy threatened to enact severe bodily punishment upon anyone who hit him in the wrong area. But, as far as any out-of-the-ordinary behavior goes, that was about it.

And, as far as recounting my adventure tubing down the Otter-Tail River, this is about it. Honestly, there's not too much more I can say, only to mention that I did enjoy my experience, though in a different way than I originally planned.

If nothing else, it was nice to escape the troubles of everyday life and contemplate, among many other things, the writing of this column. It was a peaceful experience, and I now believe that that is what tubing down a river should be.

You don't need a river to party, but at times, nothing else will more effectively improve your general outlook on this business of life.

Nathan Kitzmann will be a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School this fall.