“LA is a great big freeway. Put a hundred down and buy a car”. Whenever we were in our car during our brief visit to SoCal last weekend, all I could hear in my head was Dionne Warwick singing “Do You Know the Way toSan Jose.” Six lanes of cars, bumper to bumper, going in every direction. Unless you keep vampire hours, there doesn’t seem to be a time of day in LA that there aren’t too darn many cars on the road. How do people live like that?

The reason we were subjecting ourselves to the parking lot that doubles as the LA freeway system was to spend a few days with our daughter, Valerie, who’s going to college in Orange County. While we were there, we planned to meet up with some other family members and do a couple of days at Disneyland.

I know there are people for whom going to Disneyland sounds like punishment. They are thinking why would anyone choose to spend $100 a day to stand in line for an hour in 90 degree heat, buy $4 bottles of water, and get caught in a human logjam on a replica street of small town America?

Put that way, it does sound a little crazy. But our family looks forward to Disneyland. I’m sure part of my affection for the place is because Disneyland was often where we went for summer vacation when I was growing up in Salt Lake. If we could make it through the seemingly endless days of visiting relatives in the LA area and listening to the grown ups talk about dead people we had never met, Disneyland was the carrot at the end of the trip. I remember buying the ticket books for rides and how we really had to work to use up all the “A” tickets which were the boring rides and attractions and how precious that “E” ticket for the Matterhorn was.

On the drive down I-5 on this trip, Steve said that the one thing he really wanted to do at Disneyland this year was go on the brand new Radiator Springs Racers ride at Cars Land. My brother, who lives in the LA area and is a bit of a Disneyland geek, said that websites were saying that Fast Passes for the ride were sold out by 10 am.

The not-so-fast Fast Pass line at the "Cars" ride

With that in mind, we decided that we would get there when the park opened at 8 a.m. on Saturday and head straight to the ride. The kind of pressure we were feeling to get there on time should be reserved for court appearances but nonetheless, we were determined to give it our best shot.

We were in the park by 8:10 and not knowing exactly where the ride was, we didn’t realize that the line of people stretching nearly back to the entrance were all people waiting for Fast Passes. Jennifer Lynn was in tears over a miscommunication, we had already lost my sister in the crowd, and my stomach was in knots. Ten minutes into our vacation and the magic kingdom looked like more like the black magic kingdom to me.

We regrouped, took a few deep breaths, reminded ourselves that we were there to enjoy one another’s company, we could do the ride at some future visit, and that we had better pace ourselves or our blood pressure was going to end up off the chart. So we ditched the cars ride and instead  headed off to the Tower of Terror. There was no line so we walked right on the ride. Once we got a rhythm going, we had a fun, if not exactly relaxing, couple of days at Disneyland and California Adventure.

The irony of spending eight long hours in the car getting to Southern California and navigating our way through seas of cars on freeways so we could go on a “cars” ride wasn’t lost on us. I guess even at Disneyland, LA is just a great big freeway.