Today I’m going back home for a family get together.  Not a typical family reunion as it’s just my immediate family with nieces and nephews. We haven’t gotten together in awhile so this is the weekend we get to invade Mom and Dad’s house and eat up all of their food!  

The drive from Chicago to Carbondale is a long one (330 miles) and I usually hop into the car and make my way down Interstate 57.  I try not to drive too fast but sometimes it’s tempting when you see that caravan of 3-4 cars doing 80mph! 

It’s not a visually stimulating trip for most of the way as the ride is full of farm land until you get south of Effingham.  Then Rend Lake and tree covered rolling hills dominate the landscape signaling that we are in Southern Illinois.  

Today, however, I’m riding the Amtrak train to Carbondale as I write this.  I don’t know if I’m getting old or I’m just starting to think more clearly but I’m really enjoying this!  No getting mad at folks that STILL don’t know the left lane is for faster traffic.  No summer time construction detours that feel like you’re driving to Missouri until you get back to I-57.  Just relaxing as I ride and reflect on how smart I’ve become.

 As the train rolls south it takes me back to some special memories of playing high school basketball throughout the state.  With stops in Homewood (close to Rich Central), Champaign (state tourney, Flyin’ Illini), and Centralia (prettiest girls in South 7 conference) I’m immediately taken back to opposing coaches, players, and gyms that make me smile.  It is much tougher to reminisce while driving and listening to Megan, Stephen Paul, and Landon.

I think back to losing in the state tournament in Champaign to my future teammate and brother Kendall Gill and his Rich Central team that finished 2nd in the state.  I think about playing in Centralia against yet another Patrick family member and looking into the stands and seeing some of the finest high school girls I had ever seen.  I think about playing Effingham and how we blew them out.  This was sort of a revenge game for me as I watched Uwe Blab and Mitch Arnold beat Carbondale 6 years earlier in the sectionals when my brother Craig played.  

Those were great memories that have come flooding back due to my decision to take the train instead of driving.  No wonder my parents take the train every time they come to see me (really my sons).  Guess if getting older means getting smarter and enjoying experiences like these then sign me up!  

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