it's good-by to the Navy and hello civilian life.
took 90 days terminal leave and left the Navy in March 1984 (officially
retired in June 1984). I moved the family up to Placentia, CA, in
Orange County, and went to work for Hughes Aircraft, Ground Systems
Group, in Fullerton, CA. I worked on developing the maintenance and
troubleshooting procedures in the technical manual for the Navy's
AN/BSY-1 Submarine Weapons Launch System - built by Hughes.
worked for Hughes Aircraft for almost 3-years before leaving to take
a Project Manager position with The TechniGroup in Irvine, CA - a
small technical documentation company. I managed their largest contract
for development of the Depot Maintenance Procedures for a 400-Cycle
Power Supply/Converter for the Navy Aegis Program, built by ALS Corp
- an excellent family run and employee loyal company (until MagnaTec
bought them). I was later promoted to Director of Government Projects.
I had a falling out with that company about
2-1/2 years later and left the company. I didn't like how the company
VP (a real idiot) set up one of the managers, which resulted in her
needless firing. Also, I could see the writing on the wall as most
of the profits were foolishly being spent on fancy office space, paintings
and furnishings - when anyone worth their salt in the business knew
it was a low overhead and low frills business. Sure enough, a couple
years later they went belly-up.
I took a Program Manager position with Air
Cargo Equipment Corp, which had just been purchased by Zero Corp.
I was hired to manage a $50-Million 4-year contract to build two types
of Air Cargo Containers for the Marine Corps. I was in such a hurry
to leave my old job that I jumped into this new position without doing
more research, as this job turned into a nightmare. When they hired
me, they had no idea where they were financially into the contract
and Zero Corp was pressuring them for an official accounting. They
had never bid on a government contract before, they grossly underbid
this contract and naturally won the contract. In all fairness to them,
they thought they were bidding on a build-to-spec contract, not a
complete re-engineering contract. For two months, I literally dug
into old file cabinets, analyzed engineering drawings, and inventoried
material in warehouses - nothing was computerized. I estimated material
requirements, estimated amount of scrap, inventoried all currently
purchased material, etc. - all in an attempt to regenerate the original
bid (which had been lost) and amount spent to date. I put all this
information into a huge spreadsheet, that I built, so I could determine
the amount of materials required, labor cost, and unit cost-of-production,
etc. - thereby predicting future profitability/loss. As it turned
out, I predicted a $2-Million loss over the next 4-years. Zero Corp
raked me over the coals and scrutinized my analysis with a fine toothed
comb and came to the conclusion that I was correct. The company's
strategy and main goal then changed, from completing the contract
to pissing off the Marine Corp - hoping they would then cancel the
contract. I was not about to become part of this scenario and left
the company after only 6-months.
I still remember the day I saw my new office
for the first time, it had a stained old worn out green shag rug,
an L-shaped metal desk with one leg missing and propped up with a
board, a bullet hole in the corner of the window, and a back wall
that turned into Niagara Falls every time it rained! I had to provide
my own computer, a 286 Zenith laptop (the latest and greatest on the
market at the time). I also remember my first day at work, during
the get-to-know-me management meeting, when I asked "okay, I'm
ready to get going. Where are we in this contract?" and they
said "we don't know, that's why we hired you"! I should
have left right then!
incident that occurred at Air Cargo Equip Corp still sticks out in
my mind. It involved
a Defense Contract Agency (DCA) QA inspector. We were having problems
(or so we thought) with the air cargo container connectors not passing
the environmental specs at the DCA test lab. They're essentially nothing
but a big chunk of metal that connect the containers together during
transit. They were contracting and shrinking beyond the required specifications
during extreme temperature tests. My boss dispatched me to the test
center (about 50 miles away) to find out what was going on - after
all they were nothing but a big chunk of metal and should be passing
with flying colors. I observed the first test where the connector
was placed in an oven and heated to a high temperature. Upon removing
the connector from the oven, the QA inspector measured one of the
critical dimensions with a micrometer. He then concluded that it was
beyond the required expansion specification and therefore didn't meet
spec - the connector was then rejected. I looked at the same connector,
and using the same micrometer, made the same measurement myself. But,
when I measured it, it was well within tolerance. To make a long story
short, the QA inspector did not know how to read a micrometer properly!
And, I hadn't read one myself since my old high school shop class
days! None of the connectors were out of spec! His only comments were
"sorry about that." A typical government so-what response!
And, the public wonders why defense contracts cost so much.
left Air Cargo, and went to work for AIL Systems Corp, as an independent
contractor, at Edwards AFB. I kept the house in Placentia and moved
our 34' 5th wheel trailer into a trailer park in Rosamond, CA. I lived
in the trailer during the week and traveled the 120-miles one-way
trip home on the weekends. AIL Systems developed the Defensive Electronics
System AN/ALQ-161 for the B-1B Bomber for the Air Force.
almost 2-years, I got tired of the 120 mile commutes and dealing with
the two head managers - one, the most open and blatant womanizer/sexual
harasser I have ever witnessed, and the other was a little guy with
the typical short sh** personality. The Orange County housing market
was making a comeback, so the wife and I made a drastic decision to
sell our home. Our two kids up were up and gone, so we told them to
come and get whatever furniture they wanted and we gave the rest to
charity. We brought the 5th wheel back down from Rosamond, loaded
it up and hit the road. We left in late 1991 and went exploring this
great nation by full-time RV'ing for the next 10-years.
are some photos of the rigs that we called home for the next 10 years.
Rig No.1 - 34' Single Slide-Out King Of The
Road 5th Wheel & 7.3 Liter Turbo-Charged 1-ton dually truck. We're
parked on the Colorado River in Earp, California. This truck, when
pulling the grades up 11,000 ft Eisenhower Pass, Colorado, took us
something like 3-hrs to go only 11-miles. Later, we got rid of it
& had a Nissan UD1800 special built in Kansas City, MO.
Rig No. 2 - Dual Slide-Out 40' Alfa Gold 5th
wheel & special built Nissan UD1800 truck - shown at the 12,000-ft
summit of Monarch Pass, CO - 1995.
Rig No. 3 - 37' Triple Slide-Out Alfa Gold 5th
wheel & Nissan UD1800 truck. Picture taken in Wellton, AZ - 1999.
In rig no. 2 at 7500-ft elevation Huntington
Lake, CA - We were campground hosts.
Diamond Lake Oregon - RV Park gang, summer of
1996. From the left: the owners Bill & Carole Leaverton, George
& Paula Cooper, the managers Don & Sandy Brown, John &
Carolyn Van Voorhis, and us. We came back and worked as managers in
the summers of 1998, 1999 and part of 2000. A very nice full-service
RV Park (the only full-service RV Park in the area) in some very scenic
country and just 15-mi north of Crater Lake NP.
On Button To View]
this 10-year period, we traveled through every state in this great
nation except North Dakota and Alaska. We visited many of the National
Parks and Monuments across the country - the most scenic being Glacier
NP in Montana. When it got hot - we headed North. When it got cold
- we headed South. At first, we had to see everything right now and
traveled several hundred miles between stay-over's. Later, it was
a hundred miles, or noon - whichever came first. The people were the
friendliest in the mid-west and in the south. I made the comment,
while in Texas, to my wife that the people were so friendly in Texas
that they would wave at you going down the road. But, a little different
than they did back in California, here in Texas they used all five
fingers! We've seen the leaves change in New England, had snow on
our roof in Oregon, experienced 100mph wind gusts in Colorado, and
heard thunder so loud in South Dakota that I almost stuck my head
through the roof while laying in bed. We endured temperatures as high
as 119-deg in Las Vegas, and had rain so heavy in Louisiana that I
thought we were parked under Niagara Falls! The steepest grade we
encountered was a 11% grade in the Texas Grand Canyon (also encountered
a 15% grade along the Rio Grande, without the trailer) - Monarch Pass
in Colorado is no small hill either. We got eaten by meat eating flies
in Utah, no-see'ms (flying teeth) in Florida, and hummingbird size
mosquito's in Wisconsin. We ate fresh shrimp from the boats in Mississippi,
ate one of the best steaks I ever ate in Kansas, devoured fresh Salmon
and oysters in Washington, enjoyed fresh lobster and clam chowder
in Maine, ate the best chicken fried steak in Texas, ate fresh asparagus
and delicious homemade Tamales in Arizona, and consumed the best Mexican
food in Acuna Mexico (the worst was in the Mexican town just across
the border at Yuma, AZ). We learned to religiously check tire pressure,
use a check list, and turn off the propane bottles while traveling
- after discovering a rig full of propane due to a leak in Arizona.
Fortunately, we never had any bad accidents, blow outs, or calamitous
events - we did fail to couple the trailer to the truck properly once,
but the trailer landed on the spare tire in the truck bed and only
damaged the valve stem. We started out with the intention of doing
it for the rest of our lives, but eventually got tired of pulling
the slide-outs in and out, and continuously moving. We had a lot of
fun, saw a lot of the country, and wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
this 10-year stint, we laid over for a short while in Las Vegas, NV
(Jul 93 - May 95) and I went back to work for an old friend of mine.
I spent the next 21-months working as a contract project manager for
McCaw Cellular. When AT&T purchased McCaw, my boss, as well as
my contract, was terminated and we went back out on the road. While
on the road, we worked on occasion as campground hosts, cabin managers,
RV park staff, and RV park managers - mainly to pay for site rent
and for something to do. In late summer of 2000, I took a job (from
that same friend of mine) in Los Angeles, CA as Director of Operations
for a Dot-Com company. That job only lasted for 8-months, when the
company lost funding and severely downsized during the Dot Com crash
- I chose to resign rather than be laid off. So, we were back out
on the road again. By now the vagabond RV'ing lifestyle was waning
and we were getting anxious to establish some roots once again. We
sold our 5th wheel in late summer of 2001 - ironically the week after
9/11. We were in Northern California, in an RV park on the Klamath
River, when our neighbor took an interest in our for sale sign and
bought the trailer. We rented a UHaul truck and car trailer, loaded
up, and left for our son's place in Las Vegas, NV - I drove our truck
and the wife drove the UHaul towing the trailer with our Honda on
it. We sold the truck later, in December.
Nov of 2001, we settled down in Sin City - Las
Vegas, NV. I came here with the intention to retire, but I got bored hanging around
the house and went back to work. You can gamble only so much (before you learn the actual winning percentage is only 1.5%), and patronize only so many buffets, before you run out of money and the waist line becomes unmanageable. I worked in the gaming industry, airport security, Wal-Mart, and for the State of
Nevada DMV (I think this is where
the peter principle was invented). In January 2006, I
decided to form my own web design business (OldBlueWebDesigns.com) - I have since retired from this business. I now bide my spare time exploring and photographing the less-traveled back roads, ghost towns, and old mines of Nevada, and the Southwest. If you're interested in this subject, or just want to see some of my photography, please visit my collection at SilverStateGhostTowns.com, or my photography web site WarrenWillisPhotography.com.
UPDATE: As of mid-2014, we have sold our Las Vegas home and purchased a 20-acre parcel in Utah. We bought the property in March 2013, finished developing it in April 2014, and moved in in late May 2014. It is off grid, so our power is solar (w/backup generator), water is from a well, and we have a septic tank system. It is up at an elevation of 5800 feet, so we get some snow in the winter, but the summers are mild, which is a plus after living in Las Vegas for 14 years. We have a wood stove that keeps it nice and cozy on cold winter days and nights. It is about 12 miles from a small town, and it is very secluded and quiet like we wanted. Our son will also build on the property when he retires in 2017.
Me, and Ollie North, taken at the Sean Hannity Freedom Concert May 2008.
daughter lives in Southern California - she's
in phone systems software sales and training. Our son is in law enforcement - 23 year veteran police officer.