What's in a name?

Added on by bryce lankard.

I think it is pretty much common knowledge that one of the first and most important things to do when you purchase an RV (or a boat or a beach house) is to give it a name. You might say that this is my third time around in this sort of venture. That is, if you count my 1972 VW camper van that I travelled the country in during the late 80’s. Her name was “Pokey” for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that she was never going to break any land speed records and even struggled going up a hill of any consequence. I travelled back and forth across America with my then girlfriend, Peggie Porter. It was a great adventure and a good many fine images resulted from the experience.


A great many years passed, and in 2009 I purchased a 1972 Go-tag-along trailer. It was a dilapidated 14 ft. cutie that I did a fair amount of restoration work on. At the time I was completely fascinated with the Antarctic Exploration led by Sir Ernest Shackleton and the great Australian photographer Frank Hurley. I had hopes for great adventures of my own, so I named her Shackleton, “Shack” for short. Sadly, I was never able to get her road legal, so she became my weekend getaway camp at a preserved historic farm site in Huntersville, NC. 

After I sold the “Shack”, I knew that I wanted to do this again. I had even picked out a name for the next RV. It was to be called “The Endurance” after the boat that Shackleton took to Antartica. Silly me, to think that I actually had any control over such things. In the fall of this year I decided that the right thing for me to try on was full time RVing. After searching for the right RV, at the right size and price, I found her in December of 2017. She was an 18 ft, neglected 1997 Rockwood trailer and was owned by…a fortune teller! Well, that is hard to ignore. My own fortunes were being tossed by the wind at that point and I had no idea what lay ahead. In fishing around for ideas I hit upon the name “Zoltar”. How cool would that be? It had a vague reference to the fortune telling machine that appears in the Tom Hanks movie “Big”. It also starts with a “Z”, what could be better? But the wheels of fate have their own plans. 

My first mishap came during the first week I owned her. While pulling out of a parking space, I drove onto a raised roadbed that caused the RV to tilt to one side. The next day I discovered that she had collided with the adjacent bottle tree and one of the bottles had punctured the side of the camper, penetrating all the way into the interior and stayed there as I drove away. In Southern lore these bottle trees are intended to ward off evil spirits or “haints”. Did this mean something? I then moved her to the Vrba residence, where I was house and pet sitting during the Christmas holiday and could work every day to get her ship shape. Then in the midst of my daily renovation work, North Carolina got hit by the worst winter storm in a hundred years. Snow Cyclone Greyson brought a week of temperatures that dipped down to 3 degrees for a solid week. It makes testing one’s water situation a little tough when everything is frozen solid. I even spent my first night in the camper during this weather. I figured if I could stand that then anything else would be a cakewalk. I thought I was OK and was prepared to move her into her new home, but the roads here in Chapel Hill were unsafe, so my launch got delayed. I thought the worst had happened, and then the bomb came. On January 6th I received word that my father has passed away unexpectedly. It would be an understatement to say that it shattered me. I count my blessings that I was still staying at the Vrba’s because they took great care of me while I was at my lowest. Two days later, I was able to park my RV and head down to be with my family.

All this got me thinking about the precocious nature of fate. Fate has often dealt me a very fine hand, but now she seemed turned against me. One of my favorite characters from fiction is Ignatius P. Reilly from the “Confederacy of Dunces”, who believed that all of our fates were governed by Fortuna and the Wheel of Fortune. Medieval writers got the idea that Fortune is a flaky, insane, and blind force that pays no heed to things like worthiness, unworthiness, good family or bad family, kindness or evil. In the early days, she's pictured as a goddess standing on a rolling rock. Whichever way the rock rolled, that's the way she fell. And as Fortune falls, so do the fates of men and nations. What I knew was that my dad loved the idea of this RV and the adventures that might ensue and I knew I wanted to honor him and take him with me on whatever was to come. So I knew I had to accept “Rota Fortuna” and roll with whatever fate she decreed. Hence her name became obvious. Folks, let me introduce you to “Fortuna”, and this blog is not just Rota, but Rotas, because she has 4 wheels, 8 if you count the 4 on the car that pulls her. Let’s roll.