We left in November of 1967 and headed for the Caribbean. I didn't have a camera yet... I bought mine off a shipmate after we left Pearl. So there I have no photo record of our first trip thru the Panama Canal (which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was off watch and got to view the entire passage from the highest lookout spot, 2 levels above the bridge. A pair of super power binoculars was mounted there. They made the alligators (or whatever those reptiles were) sunning on the shore look very large indeed. I was a little shocked when the first thing we did in Gatun Lake was blow tubes and let out clouds of black smoke for a few minutes. Then, to add to our pollution of the jungle, we began a fresh water washdown. I wondered what was happening to the local environment if all ships that passed thru the canal behaved that way.
Anyway, heading up the Pacific Coast of Mexico, I first heard the Beatles tune: "I Am the Walrus" and had to have it as soon as I could (I didn't get it till much later in Sasebo). We stopped for a while in San Diego, and I got to hit Disneyland with my high school buddy, Cole Roberts (whose mom was out visiting him at the time.) That's where I first saw Pirates of the Caribbean... who knew then that it would someday become a hit movie.
The trip to Pearl took us about 5 days. The captain put us in the trough not far out of San Diego and everyone discovered what was not battened down. The Radio Shack fared pretty well. The Mess Decks, were, as expected, a mess, and the Philipino Ward Room stewards (whose hq was just across from the Radio Shack) were pretty hard hit too. On the way out, I studied the opponents wanted column in my Avalon Hill General and found a wargamer in Hawaii. When we docked, I managed to call him (whose name I have sadly forgotten) and he picked me up for an afternoon of Afrika Korps and Bismarck (or was it Waterloo?) I did manage to swim at Waikiki, but missed the Arizona Memorial.
On the trip to Japan, we stopped off at Midway. I didn't get ashore, but I really enjoyed the Gooney Birds. Out of Midway we started getting ready for Viet Nam service. We got lectures about venereal disease, watched John Wayne in Green Berets, and went thru an endless series of innoculations for every tropical disease imaginable, including bubonic plague. Somewhere between Midway and Japan, I bought my first camera from one of the ETs. It was a pretty nice Yashika 35mm (I forgot the model). Anyway, the photos could now begin...