About eight years ago, I was invited by a close friend to join a canoe trip down the Teslin River in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Besides the appeal of twelve days of wilderness paddling, I was also intrigued by the unique cultural opportunity. I was the only non-Czech-speaker in the group. As a result, I learned a few phrases and butchered plenty more in the process. (Attempting to say “thank you” (děkuji) for a tasty meal shared with strangers, I merged it with the word for “please” (prosím) to form something that sounded like the Czech word for “diarrhea.” Way to impress my hosts!)
I did pick up some fun and useful slang, though. As an avid canoeist and linguist–clearly better at the former than the latter–my favorite is háček. Prounounced “ha-check,” it’s officially the word for a diacritical mark in the Czech language. (Appropriately, háček contains a háček!) The word is also shorthand for the person who paddles in the front of a canoe. (The stern paddler is zadák.)
Which brings me to the title of this post. I’m going camping on Shell Key tonight, leaving around sunset to ride the outgoing tide from Ft. DeSoto Park under a full moon. My short list of háčeks all had to bail because of work and other obligations. I’m comfortable paddling alone (I’ll stow gear and firewood forward for balance), but it’s much more fun with a companion. So, are there any aspiring háčeks out there?
We’ll be joining my best friend Rick and his wife Ellen. It’s quick trip from St. Petersburg, yet the place we camp faces the Gulf of Mexico, so it feels like you’re much farther away from civilization than a couple of miles. We’ll eat a proper dinner before and breakfast after the trip, bringing just simple snacks, water and a Thermos of hot tea. It should go a little something like this.
You don’t need any experience or gear, but must be up for a little adventure. Please let me know ASAP if you’re interested!