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.