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September 23, 2022

My Traveling Shoes

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,

and many of our people need it solely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things

cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of

the earth all one’s lifetime.

– Mark Twain

While taking my ‘traveling shoes’ down from their resting place on the top shelf of my closet, I was remembering the last time I dusted them off. I was on my way to Melbourne, Australia, alone. Nervous, I was, but excited at the same time. I was meeting an unknown relative who had contacted me a few weeks before, saying ‘you don’t know me, but I am your cousin.’ Immediately I booked my airline tickets.

This new trip will involve a plane and a ship going, and a train returning. I always save the best-tasting food on my plate for last, and I travel the same way. I am fortunate, I have time, lots and lots of time. And that is exactly what you need if you are ‘going by train.’

Amtrak shares the rails with freight trains, and freight trains ‘rule the roost’ so to speak. How many times have I been in the dining car as the train slowly grinds to a halt … side-tracked again, waiting for the freight train to pass by, freeing up the tracks to continue on our way? And trains can often be hours late, always for unknown reasons to the passengers. If you love traveling by train, you simply ‘live with it.’

This time, because of Covid, not to mention my aging bones, I have elected to take a ‘sleeper’ compartment rather than sharing the seat next to mine. And it is still summer vacation time for many who will be traveling with small children. There, I think I have justified the additional expense.

I am on my way to Alaska on a cruise ship, Holland America. My Hubby Norm and I have taken this trip together twice before, loving each and every minute. Everyone on a cruise is there to have a good time and I am meeting up with friends I have known since first grade in school in a little town in Aberdeen, Washington. Without my Hubby, this trip will be bittersweet indeed,

I have managed to wrangle an invitation to visit the galley on board the ship. I have always been fascinated by the fact they are able to deliver 2,500 plus, plates of delicious and hot food and the waiters never mix them up as they set them down in front of you. 

One of the soups I was served, years ago on the Royal Caribbean Lines, was Asian Pork Meatball soup, which was filled with crispy vegetables that many of you here in the valley are growing in your gardens today.

Seafood served on board comes from the icy-cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, which gives the lobster meat its firm and flavorful meat, unlike the warm water lobsters off the Santa Barbara and Mexican coast which are of a mealy texture.

I’ll be spending a few days after the cruise in Aberdeen, Washington where I will immediately head to the restaurant where I know I will find Razor Clam Fritters

fried in the same batter as did my Aunt Betty, oh so many years ago.

I will stand in front of the empty lot where our old boarding house stood before it burned to the ground, shedding a few tears while remembering my family coming and going from its doors.  I will even imagine my uncle’s voice calling for his ‘little tootsie’ to climb on his lap while he reads the comics from the newspaper each evening to me.

Yes, bitter-sweet this trip will be, for it well may be my last trip to Alaska, and at our age, this may be the last time ‘old school chums’ will be together. You can count on your hands how many are still living.

We will talk about picking wild salmon berries, dropping them into our Hills Bros coffee cans, along the bank of the Chehalis River while we took sneak-peeks at the hobos camping there.  And we shall talk and tell stories of our chums who have passed from this beautiful life.

Ahh yes, bittersweet I’m thinking, as I reach for my now, showing a bit of wear, traveling shoes.  All Aboard! 

Asian Pork Meatball Soup

Mix together:

  • 1 lb. ground Pork
  • ¼ cup diced green onion stalks
  • ½ can diced water chestnuts
  • 2 cloves minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. granted grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing or dry sherry wine

Add to meat mixture:

  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • ½ cup Panko

Mix well and refrigerate for two hours. Roll into 1 ½ in. balls. Refrigerate or freeze for later.

In a pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and turn off.

Add ½ package of Asian Rice Noodles. Cover and let sit for 20 min. Drain and add to broth below.

In a pot add:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Better than Bullions chicken stock
  • 2 small slices of fresh ginger root
  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Bring to a boil and turn down to high simmer. Then add:

  • Meatballs
  • 1 bunch diced Bok Choy
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup snow peas
  • Drained rice noodles

Simmer 15 minutes. Enjoy!


Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]

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