Where are you? You’re in the merriest little town in Carburetor Country. Cars Land has been decorated for Christmas and it’s truly something to behold. The cozy charm of Radiator Springs is magnified by the cheer and merriment of Christmas decor, automotive style. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there on our visit this weekend.
It’s Sunday night. Monday is almost here. When the sun rises, I shall embark on what I expect will be an interesting week. It will be the last one with my employer of seven years. Soon I will be at a different school district. I’m excited. I’m pensive. I am bittersweetly retrospective. At 27, if I break down the numbers, I’ve spent a little more than 25% of my life here. The feeling is surreal. The change has come swiftly. It feels like a dream.
A very dear friend was sharing with me yesterday evening the importance of time, how it’s the most valuable thing we have and how we can choose to give it to others. We can use it to show people that they are worth something, that they’re accepted and loved. It’s something I take for granted because I’m blessed to have some really amazing people in my life that make me feel those things on a consistent basis.
As I sat down with this picture earlier, none of this was on my mind. It was just me and Radiator Springs and I was wishing I was there. Then the word “Cozy” really started standing out. It’s the perfect word for this place. Radiator Springs is one of those places with its priorities set right, where folks are accepted and valued. That acceptance, which leads to feeling cozy, can give you a place to feel at home, no matter where you are.
My new job means moving. Not real far but far enough to feel unfamiliar. Far enough for me to consider new ways to give my time to the people I love, people who won’t be a few minutes away. Far enough that I expect I will meet new people to give my time to and people who will give of their time to me. I know that good things are in store. I know that God loves me and has good plans for me and that makes me feel cozy. When I wake from this surreality, there will be a new place to feel at home.
Some days of shooting pictures at the Disneyland Resort are about telling a story. Some are about meandering to see what catches your eye. Other days are about finding light. This picture was a result of the latter. The glow on just about everything in Cars Land during the late afternoon is stunning.
On a side note, naming each picture is kind of a process in itself. Sometimes you have a thought about an image when you take it and sometimes you don’t have a clue. I often try to find a title that is amusing and clever (at least to myself…) Tonight I thought of naming my picture “Grease. Monkey Not Included”. Chuckling at myself, I proudly asked Michaela, “What do you think I’m going to name this?” She replied, “I don’t know, ‘Grease Lighting’?” After a brief moment of watching my popped balloon fly about the room, I knew she’d won and gladly claimed her thought for my own! Now off to do the hand jive…
I spent a good chunk of my night in Cars Land taking in the wonder that is Radiator Springs Racers. It really got me thinking about the part in Cars when Sally is talking to Lightning about how people used to drive along the highway to have a great time, not to make great time. We really do have a bad habit of getting hung up on the destination. Sally’s insight is such a beautiful reminder to take your time. Enjoy it. Enjoy the people you’re with. Most of all, enjoy the journey. That’s where the adventure is.
I was not expecting to love Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree half as much as I did. Fortunately for us, a good friend gave us the tip of all three sitting together. Let me tell you, those little tractor’s can sure dance. I have no idea how the Imagineers did it, but you swing back and forth all over the junkyard, transferring partners and trying to keep your laugh at a tolerable volume for the people brave enough to ride with you. Or at least with me. When we were making our way out of Cars Land for the evening, I noticed the tractors finally at rest from a long, joyful day.
The one ride we didn’t make it on last Saturday was Luigi’s Flying Tires. I can’t wait to go back and try my hand at gliding on air while pegging fellow park goers with beach balls. Until then I’m left with the magical neon glow of Cars Land burned into my memory like rubber from tires spun on asphalt. I think one of my favorite neon signs would have to be this one from Luigi’s. Every time I see it I hear Guido saying “pit stop!”
I was a bit of a skeptic back when I first heard there was a whole land being built for Cars. I had seen the movie once but hadn’t connected with it at the time. I grew up right off of Route 66 between Victorville and Barstow with a pretty poor outlook of my hometown and its surroundings. That’s not to say that I didn’t love the old buildings along the road, the unique people, the rusty signs, I did. But I grew up feeling it was inferior and almost ashamed to answer the question, “Where are you from?”
The announcement of Cars Land piqued my interest and I sat back down to watch the movie. The second go round was a different experience entirely. I found myself deeply moved with some sort of approval to appreciate the beauty and stories I grew up immersed in. In some way it made me feel more whole, more free.
Yesterday we stepped into Cars Land for the first time. Almost ninety minutes from where I grew up, I felt like I was home. There is an authenticity to this place that cannot verbally be conveyed, it has to be experienced. It’s impossible to miss the love that has gone into this new land. I didn’t want to leave and was more than content to spend most of the day there. To everyone who had a part to play in this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. In Cars Land life really is a dream.