At the end of September 1996, I drove across the country to take a what I thought would be a temporary contract in the Washington D.C. area. I took 5-1/2 days off between jobs, including driving across the country. Originally intending to stay only 4 months, I took a leave of absence from my most excellent job at the NASA/Ames Research Center, and rented a room in Vienna, Virginia (a suburb of D.C).
Four months turned to six, then ten. The project was interesting and compelling, and we had a milestone to meet. I officially moved to Virginia, regretfully resigning from my job at NASA. Then we met our milestone, and things at AT&T wound down quickly. I decided I didn't want to work for AT&T long-term, so I moved back to California in August 1997, where the climate better facilitates my lifestyle. But I was glad I got to experience life on the East Coast again for a winter, a spring and half a summer, and to see my New York based family regularly.
Actually, most of my life in Virginia was working constantly in a windowless building.
My contract was with AT&T, who was awarded the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) Inter-Site Services Contract (DISC). This is a large IP over ATM wide-area network, and I was heavily involved in developing and proving the ATM service (as described in Section 3.2 of the Government's Statement Of Work), as well as working with the IP routing and the interaction between the two. I'm a wannabe academic who loves to read the literature and brainstorm, but the real satisfaction comes when a ping actually succeeds.
After returning to California, I was flush with cash and in no particular hurry to find a job. But, mid-1997, any unemployed network engineer in Silicon Valey would soon find themselves swept into the early waves of the dot-com craze...