I will make this shorter than I could due to the fact that you probably don't have three hours to sit and read all my ramblings, but I will put in some highlights. We had a lot of fun, besides the fact that we were away from home for seven months, but since I was warned to stay concise I will list the ports we visited, share some stories and put a few pictures from our adventures.
We started our trip in Everett, WA obviously, and set out for seven days to reach Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. We were only there for one night while we brought on all the supplies and equipment that our helicopter detachment would need. As we left Hawaii, the two helicopters flew out to meet us and start their involvement in our globetrotting.
We then travelled south for another week or so until we reached Papeeté, Tahiti. It is a very pretty island and is part of French Polynesia, as is Bora Bora. We spent three days there and had fuctions about every day so our ability to explore and really see the place was rather hampered.
From there we travelled to Pago Pago, American Samoa. This should not be confused with Samoa, an independent nation made up of islands directly west of American Samoa. On our way to Pago Pago, there was an earthquake and subsequent tsunami which caused quite a bit of damage in American Samoa (though most of it was in Samoa). We increased speed and arrived early enough to sound the harbor and make sure it was still deep enough and still pull in on time. We spent four days there helping clearing out fields and houses that had all sorts of garbage and rubble strewn all over the place. It was great to see the change and hope that it brought to the residents there to have us helping them.
Next was Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and then Guam for fuel before we pulled into Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands for our first liberty port. We stayed there three days and I got to try scuba diving for the first time. It was a blast and I hope to be able to continue diving in the future.
Two weeks later we found ourselves through the Spratley Islands, the Malacca Strait and up to Phuket, Thailand. Thailand is a very beautiful country and riding an elephant was great fun but it is pretty dissapointing to see such a beautiful country resort to the red light district for such a large portion of its tourist industry.
From there we travelled south west to Male in the Maldives. The weather was pretty rough and the liberty boats were mostly unable to come out to the ship at anchor, so the port turned into a drag for the crew rather than the beautiful beach gettaway that it could have been.
We were then underway in the Red Sea for most of our time and made a quick trip up to Aqaba, Jordan for change of command. We spent three days there and had a blast. Jordan is a fun place and the tour to the city of Petra was worth every dollar. It was great fun and I bought two kafias: the scarf/headwrap that is typical in that part of the world. They are very warm and I wore mine often.
We then were underway again for almost a month before going through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and on to Haifa, Israel. Another three days there on Mount Carmel (Haifa) and a tour to Jerusalem made it a definite highlight for me. There is so much history there that I could go back and spend years touring around and seeing all the sites, even with Israel being a tiny spit of land.
The next adventure can't be described too much online but I was to be a liason to an Iraqi warship for three weeks on our trip from the Suez to Iraq. We stopped in Djibouti, Djibouti then on to Muscat, Oman and finally to Umm Qasr, Iraq where we dropped them off. It was a great time and both a rewarding and humbling experience. Definitely one of the most professionaly rewarding things I have done as a Naval Officer.
Our return home started at our next port call: Manama, Bahrain. It was a lot of fun there but very expensive. We had a lot of work done on the ship which needed it at this point. We then set sail for Chittagong, Bangladesh. I didn't get a chance to go ashore there because we were anchored so far out and I had duty during the only oportunities to go ashore.
Singapore was next as we started to see the light at the end of deployment. We spent another three days there and had a great time. They have great restaurants at the quay. From there we went eastward through the Phillipines to the island nation of Palau and the city of Koror. One of the most beautiful places I have been to. I did plenty of snorkeling there and went to Jellyfish Lake, where millions of jellyfish live that can't sting. Very tripy.
From there we travelled back to Hawaii and after a short delay due to bad weather, got underway with "Tigers," family members or friends who wanted to see what it was like onboard. So now for the pictures. I will put two or three more blogs and put a picture or two from the places I got good pictures from. Thank you all for all you prayers and support. I loved having those cards from you guys to open on certain days.
It has been an absolute dream to have David home. I actually woke up on Sunday morning and for a split second wondered who was laying in my bed. That's right...my HUSBAND!
We are in the process of getting everything ready for our move to South Carolina. The plan is that we start driving down there this Friday where we will stay with friends for the weekend, finish our trip on Sunday and right to house/apartment hunting on Monday. Between now and then we will try our best to get some of David's pics uploaded. It has been great to hear his stories. Maybe he will include one or two of them for you, too.
Alright so I guess now that I'm home I'll write a few lines. I had a fun time in all the different places that I went to visit, but it is very good to be home. We hit 15 different ports in 7 months as well as spending three weeks onboard an Iraqi warship, but you will have to wait until a later post to read the details on them all. Thank you for all your prayers and support for both Kristi and myself while I was gone.
This is one of many ribbons decorating the front yard waiting for me.