What’s in a Name…

Names are important. Almost everyone knows Eeyore the Donkey. If you read this blog, you also know Bone. He’s being a bit sartorial here, all dressed up in his kilt. He’s also known for running around naked.

I’ve been tardy in the world of blogging lately. My apologies. Other things have demanded my attention: Important things like learning to back up a trailer (a work in progress), or make the trailer’s hotspot work so we can have decent internet, or figure out what the hundreds of buttons (a slight exaggeration) in our new Ford 150 do.  And a gazillion other things. Like the naming of the trailer…

I asked Eeyore to help me back up the trailer last week in my first ever campground backup spot at Pt. Reyes National Seashore. This was his reaction. The Olema campground host was hardly more helpful. “I’ll be glad to come out and yell at you when your wife gets tired,” she told me.
A partial view of the buttons on our truck, lit up at night. They are hard enough to figure out in the day when you can see their labels.

Names are important, right? They provide recognition. Everyone, or just about everyone, recognizes Eeyore, for example. And if you read this blog, the odds are, you know Bone. But did you know Bone and Eeyore are the best of buddies? They’ve been traveling with us together for over a quarter of million miles on North America’s highways and byways over the past 20 years. They became good friends when Eeyore saved Bone from hanging in Tucson. He’d robbed a bank, cheated at cards and hung out with ladies of the night.

Naming characters like Eeyore and Bone is natural, but how many of you also name your vehicles? We always have and recently we were faced with the challenge of naming two: our new Ford 150 pickup and our new Imagine trailer. The truck was easy. It is big, strong, and white like a polar bear. Iorek (pronounced Yorek), a king of the polar bears in The Golden Compass, immediately popped into our minds.

Iorek the bear in a free, downloadable photo from his role in “Golden Compass.” He was also quite gentle in his role when it came to Lyra.

The trailer has proven to be more difficult. We wanted something that suggested wandering. After all, this blog’s title is Wandering Through Time and Place. My Pacific Crest Trail backpacking name was Wanderer. One thing was clear. The name for the trailer had to represent a strong, independent female personality who loves roaming to provide a fitting partner for Iorek. The two of them are hitched.

Peggy suggested that maybe we should just go with Wanderer. But we wanted something more exotic. Remember, our first travel van was named Xanadu after the ancient summer capital of Kublai Khan. The second was Quivera, in honor of a mythical Native American city of gold that the Spanish Conquistadors could never find because it moved around— a lot, apparently.

“Go for a character out of Greek (or Roman) mythology,” our son Tony urged. And certainly there were strong Roman/Greek goddesses who wandered. Think of Diana, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt (Artemis in Greek Mythology), who spent a lot of time traipsing around in the woods. Like Peggy. My kind of woman. Or Persephone, who split her time between Hades and the outer world, creating the seasons as she moved. Then there was Medusa. But her nasty habit of turning people to stone disqualified her. She was a sweetheart in comparison to Pandora, however, who opened her box and set free all of the horrors of the world. What are a few stoned people in comparison to that? The treasure trove of Greek and Roman mythology encouraged me to check out mythological figures in other cultures. I found a number of promising leads but none quite clicked with us.

We were also open to historical figures. A ‘legendary but possibly historical character’ out of Ireland’s ancient history caught my attention. Muirisc was given land by her father, the 66th high king of Ireland, between 300 and 200 BCE, in what is now County Mayo.  According to Wikipedia, “She was known as a sea captain and a warrior who ‘ruled o’er hardy sailors and great men’ and was famed as much for being ‘daring’ and ‘bold’ as she was for her beauty.”

A wandering sea captain queen famed for her beauty, daring, and boldness— How could Iorek help but be charmed? But I don’t think “being ruled o’er’ was part of his agenda. (I’ve never been much on that, myself.) And he had someone in mind. “Serafina” we heard him whisper. She too was a queen, the queen of a clan of witches that live around Lake Enara in Finland. Like Iorek, she knows about extreme cold weather, and also like him, is a character in the Golden Compass. Both shared responsibility for helping and protecting young Lyra in her battles against totalitarian evil. They were a team.

It was hard to argue against Iorek’s logic. He’s the one, after all, who has to pull her along the highways and byways of North America. Plus, I like the way her name rolls off the tongue: srr-aa-FEE-na.   And maybe, just maybe, she will jump on her broom and park herself in campground spots that are particularly tight!

Imagine Serafina.

55 thoughts on “What’s in a Name…

  1. Utterly fitting name…. Serafina Pekkala! I can certainly IMAGINE it!

    Wishing you great fun and thrilling travels. And good luck with the buttons and backing up bit. (How’s that for alliteration?)

  2. Brilliant! I only read this series a few years ago for the first time travelling one whole day on a bus. It was perfect, it’s just that I missed my familiar who remained back home.

    I think the best names have been chosen! Now onwards and the parking skills will follow! 🙂

    Another thing: also quite recently I learned the English word for Pooh’s friend. Eeyore?? I couldn’t believe my eyes. I read it in the Slovenian translation all my life and there his name is Sivček. Meaning “the grey one”. Ahh.

    • Best to have your familiar along with you, Manja. Grin.

      I like your optimism on parking and agree. I keep looking for a large vacant lot.

      I get ‘the grey one’ since Eeyore has never been accused of being overly optimistic. Thanks for commenting. 🙂 –Curt

  3. I have a friend whose job with a trailer company is to introduce the trailer to the new owners. Besides the usual stuff a new owner should know, he also helps them hitch it onto the tow vehicle, then he makes the primary driver back the trailer up while he coaches the non-primary on hand signals. Then he has them switch places.They keep doing it until they smile or cry.
    We have always named our vehicles. The Durango is Dingo, the little convertible is Sadie, my PT is Pete and the Beemer is Wanda. I like Pete best because he was born long before vehicles got complicated

    • I’m with you on Pete, Margy! Good names. Our walkthrough was okay, just barely. And there was no backing up practice. That’s what full service means! It would have been much appreciated. –Curt

  4. I just got a new car. I need a degree in computer science to understand how it works. My first car had two warning lights one for temperature and the other for engine oil. If they lit up I covered them with something convenient like a glove and carried on regardless.

    • Those were the days, Andrew! This darn thing even has a program that bounces us back in the lane if we cross over the line without signalling. I refuse to turn it on. I do like its cameras that give me a good view when I am parking. Much easier! -Curt

    • Thanks, Ray. Bones kilt was sewed for him by one of my fifth cousins in Kansas City. She also made him a pirate outfit. In her 70s at the time, she was quite enamored with Johnny Depp. 🙂 –Curt

  5. Serafina , a beautiful name and I hope she will be kind to you.
    Curt, I really loved reading your post and feel the wonder of what you do.
    By the way, I also name my cars, normally without going through Greek or other mythology. That is a great way you chosen.

    Have a wonderful time with Yorik and Serafina. 😊.


  6. All of your characters you travel with have great imaginations and love
    “srr-aa-FEE-na. And maybe, just maybe, she will jump on her broom and park herself in campground spots that are particularly tight!”

    I IMAGINE.. you are having the best time! Keep enjoying!! 💖💖💖

    • Thanks Cindy. 🙂 Yeah, the characters have given us many laughs over the years. Eeyore got his start in Peggy’s office when she was a principal at Olive Grove Elementary school. He gave comfort to many crying first and second graders having a tough time. Once, when Peggy stopped filling a candy bowl that she kept for teachers, they kidnapped Eeyore and made promise to refill the bowl. 🙂 He magically reappeared once the bowl was full.

      And, as you imagine, Peggy and I are having a good time. We are going to spend today in one of my favorite coastal towns, Mendocino. Tomorrow we are celebrating out 29th anniversary. –Curt

  7. I’m not sure I could remember Serefina. On the other hand, I keep wanting to sing, “Serefina, Serefina, Serefina ret-set-set.” You surely know the old camp song. Like you say, I’ve got a song for everything. A parody of Sarasponda for Serefina would be just the ticket! My first VW bug was Mephistopheles, because it was a devil of a car, but now I have Princess, and she is going to be pampered for the rest of my natural life. There will not be a new car for me — couldn’t afford one, and don’t want one with all those gadgets. When I can’t do my own check before changing lanes, it’ll be time to give up driving!

    • Sarafina is easy, Linda. I did check out Sarasonda. Some fun. Great name for you VW bug. Mine was dark blue and I name it Rorschach after the ink spot test. And I am sure Princess will serve you well. Other than all of the electronics, we are really enjoying our new truck. We plan to keep it until we have to trade it on for a self-driving car when we are too old to drive anymore! –Curt

  8. Pedro and I were just talking about naming cars the day before yesterday. We never have, but people in our life do. Tara names their cars right away – like you have. I love shoreacres name of Mephistopheles! I think it’s a good idea to name these two vehicles because they are personalities and you guys will all be living together for a while, and this will help you in getting to know each other. Enjoy your adventures!

  9. Bone & Eeyore aren’t going to know the majesty of their conveyance! Your names are fabulous, know the books and Iorek and Serafina are truly apposite for such wondrous machines. Mind you, we’ve had a quad and trailer for 18 years and I’m still not too hot on reversing. Think your problems are magnified to the nth degree 😀

  10. Enjoyed the Name theme, Curt, and share your dislike of that new-fangled feature which bounces you back into your lane when you stray over the centre line – have recently come across it in a hire car. Such a vehicle could be named Bossyboots or Nagbag, I suppose! Btw, my computer doesn’t like either of those, placing a little red squiggle beneath each … reckon we’re becoming slaves to these darn machines 😉 !

    • Agreed, Dave. I hate to sound like an old guy, but being bounced in and out of a lane is a bit too much. I’ve been careful to leave that damn thing off. At least we still have a choice. I’m not sure how long that will last. I thought I had a drunk driver in front of me the other day until I figured out he was trying to compensate for being kicked back into his lane. 🙂 –Curt

  11. oohhh, I love the name – it does roll off the tongue nicely. We just bought a big, white truck – we just call her Big Mama. Lol. I did chuckle at the camp host comment….I have seen enough of these situations to relate. Have a great holiday Curt!

  12. I’ve always loved your humor, but this post is over the top. After all, who takes the time to eliminate women — powerful ones at that — in a naming contest filled with pros and cons of one name over another. You’re terrific, you know?
    And here’s to many good miles on the road in 2022.

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