Traveling the world with work friends is all about laughing and staying young.

The Cali Passport Posse, top row, from left: Steve Starks and Max Reyes. Second row: Trinh Nguyen, Aditya Sharma, Ethelinda Reyes and Gregory Hornsby Sr. Front row: Julie Naslund, Earl Rodgers, Zebbra Corbin-Rodgers and Latrice Williams. Not pictured: Leslie McKay-Martin. All but four are Retired, LADWP and LADOT. Most are Club Members. (Titles are listed below.)

This is more than a story about traveling, or working, or retirement. It’s a story about friendship, with those other subjects all rolled into one.

This is the story of the Cali Passport Posse (CPP), 11 people who met working for the LADWP, became friends through their City work, Retired (most of them) and then started traveling together. They are the best of friends, and are having the times of their lives. Our photos in this issue convey that.

The CPP consists of (most are Club Members):

  • Earl Rodgers, Retired, Utility Service Manager III, 38 years of City service
  • Zebbra Corbin-Rodgers, Retired, Electrical Engineering Associate II, 35 years
  • Gregory Hornsby Sr., Retired, Assistant Director of Customer Service, 32 years
  • Latrice Williams, (current) Utility Services Manager III (Manager of Key Accounts Section of Customer Service), 31 years
  • Ethelinda (Ethel) Reyes, Retired, Utility Services Manager IV, 32 years
  • Maximo (Max) Reyes, LADOT, Retired, Sr. Management Analyst, 33 years
  • Trinh Nguyen, (current) Management Analyst II, 28 years
  • Steve Starks, Retired, Utility Services Manager IV, 41 years
  • Leslie McKay-Martin, (current) Utility Services Manager III
  • Aditya Sharma, (current) Utility Services Manager IV, 21 years
  • Julie Naslund, Retired, Utility Services Manager III, 40 years.

BELOW:The CPP getting into the travel spirit with Association CEO Robert Larios (center)

‘If You Never Go,
You’ll Never Know’

On Feb. 2, Club CEO Robert Larios and Alive! editor John Burnes interviewed members of the “Cali Passport Posse” – 10 LADWP employees and one LADOT employee (nine Retired and two active) who have traveled all over the world together. They met at work, became fast friends, and started traveling together, which they’ve been doing for almost a decade, interrupted only by the pandemic. 

Interviewed here between trips are Earl Rodgers, Retired, Utility Service Manager III, 38 years of City service; Zebbra Corbin-Rodgers, Retired, Electrical Engineering Associate II, 35 years; Gregory Hornsby Sr., Retired, Assistant Director of Customer Service, 32 years; Latrice Williams, (current) Utility Services Manager III (Manager of Key Accounts Section of Customer Service), 31 years; Ethelinda (Ethel) Reyes, Retired, Utility Services Manager IV, 32 years; Maximo (Max) Reyes, LADOT, Retired, Sr. Management Analyst, 33 years; and Trinh Nguyen, (current) Management Analyst II, 28 years. Other members are Steve Starks, Retired, Utility Services Manager IV, 41 years; Leslie McKay-Martin, (current) Utility Services Manager III; Aditya Sharma, (current) Utility Services Manage IV, 21 years; and Julie Naslund, Retired, Utility Services Manager III, 40 years. Most are Club Members.The interview took place via Zoom.

Thanks for joining us today in your retirement! Well, most of you. What was your career path through the City?

Earl Rodgers: I spent more than 38 years with the LADWP, beginning as a Meter Reader in 1977. I was promoted to Commercial Field Representative. I was later promoted to the Water Operation Division as a Water Service Specialist. In the middle of my career at the LADWP I came back over from the Water Operation Division to the Customer Service Division, where I worked as a Sr. Commercial Field Representative as an Energy Theft Investigator. I was then promoted to Supervisor over Meter Reading, Field Training and Field Safety. I was later promoted to Utility Service Manager III over Field Groups before my retirement in 2016.

Zebbra Corbin-Rodgers: I spent all 35 years with the LADWP. I started in 1983 as an Electrical Engineering Assistant in the Remote Terminal Unit group. In 1997 I transferred to the Prescheduling group where I eventually became an Electrical Engineering Associate II. I retired in March 2018 as an EEA II.

Gregory Hornsby Sr.: I started in 1986 as a Maintenance Laborer for the LADWP. I was promoted through the Field Groups as a Meter Reader, Commercial and Sr. Field Representative, Supervisor, Manager, and finally became Assistant Director in 2008, where I Managed Field Operations and later, our Key Accounts Section until I retired in 2019.

Latrice Williams: I have been with LADWP my entire career. I started as a Clerk in Payroll/Timekeeping within the Financial Services Organization, in June 1993. I was promoted to Customer Service Representative (CSR) in the Customer Service Division in 1996. I have been with this Division ever since, promoting my way through the ranks of Lead CSR, Commercial Service Supervisor and now Utility Services Manager III.

Ethel Reyes: I started in 1985 as a Clerk Typist for the LA Sanitation Dept., and then I was promoted to Sr. Clerk Typist at LA Tax and Permit Division. In 1988, I became a Customer Service Representative with Water and Power, promoted to Customer Service Supervisor, then a Management Analyst. In 2017, I retired as a Utility Services Manager IV.


Max Reyes: I started out with the LAPD as a Station Officer in 1979. In 1982 I moved to Water and Power as a Customer Service Representative and became a Customer Service Supervisor. Then in 2001, I moved to the Dept. of Transportation as a Management Analyst and was promoted to Sr. Management Analyst in 2005. I participated in the Early Retirement Incentive Package (ERIP) in 2010.

Trinh Nguyen: I started with the City in 1995 with the Community Development Dept. in their MIS section, moved to the Harbor Dept.’s Office of Homeland Security,  and then in 2007 I transferred to the LADWP Customer Service Division’s Safety Office. I am now in Human Resources.

A quick question for Latrice and Trinh. You are two of the four CPP members who are still working, right? Not retired yet?”

Trinh: Yes, unfortunately. If it weren’t for my co-workers, I would’ve retired early.

We’ll get to all the trips in a second, but when the group is planning their trips, do you ever have to say to your retired friends, “Hey, wait a second. I’m still working”?

Trinh: All the time. All the time.

Latrice: We have to slow the group down. Recouping the vacation bank is a thing!

Friends, to Start

Were you all friends before you started traveling?

Earl: Yes, most of us were friends and colleagues before we started traveling together. I first met Greg after I returned to the Customer Service Division. Trinh worked with me when I was Safety Supervisor and from there I met and worked with everyone else. CPP member Steve Starks and I worked as Meter Readers together back in the early 1980s.

Zebbra: By the way, we nominated Greg to answer all of those questions!

Gregory: I was declared Foreman!

We all worked together at some point during our 30-plus years with the department. After all is said and done, we’re going to wind up with 30-plus years for those who are still working. We met as colleagues and enjoyed each other’s company, and we just took that to the next level. Many of us had the same meeting schedules and went to lunch together while working, and started going to retirement events, hanging out, doing a couple little small vacations together, and it turned into us traveling on a larger scale.

Latrice: A lot of us were traveling individually as small little groups, and then it kind of just morphed into, “Oh, you guys are going to Hawaii this year. We’re going too, and let’s plan it at the same time.” The Reyes were going to Hawaii every single year, right?

Ethel: Yes.

Latrice: And then it morphed into, “I’m going also, so let’s go around about the same times, and then we can hang out and do dinner” or something like that.

Ethel: It grew from there with the rest of the group.

Zebbra: Most of the group all knew each other from working around each other. Even though I worked at LADWP, I did not know anyone from the group. They were associated with Earl. Being Earl’s wife, I eventually got to know everyone and I am now friends with the whole group and loving every minute of it.

Latrice: Most of us worked in the same division at LADWP. More than half of my career of 30 years has been with the same division with the Department. We would always cross paths, whether for a meeting or to go out to lunch. It was the cool kids club. Everybody was hanging out. Those conversations led to, “Who’s going on vacation? Where are you going? Oh, I want to go there.” Small groups of us started going together on vacation.

Where in Hawaii do you go? Which islands?

Gregory: All of them!

Max Reyes: The first time we went to Hawaii with Greg we started out in Oahu. Then years thereafter we started spending a lot of time in Maui, and then Kauai.

Ethel: It’s a place where everyone can recharge.

Trinh: The best trip was with the Rodgerses to Kauai. We did everything under the sun except for snorkeling. I love traveling with everybody in this group, but the Rodgerses keep me on my toes trying to make sure we don’t injure each other, we’re not drowning, and the rain is not hitting our heads because somebody just spent hundreds of dollars keeping our hair all nice or the shoes we just bought not touching any of the rain puddles! Those two keep me on my toes to make sure that we come back home unscathed and uninjured.

Zebbra: The Hornsbys and the Reyeses have been to all of the islands. Earl and I have been to Kauai, the Big Island and Oahu, so Maui is next.

It sounds like the traveling group grew pretty quickly into a big hearty group of you going together.

Ethel: It was quick.

Max Reyes: The early stages of CPP started when Latrice took some classes from USC in Shanghai, China, and she asked if we wanted to go there. I said “Sure. We want to go to Shanghai, but I want to go to other places in Asia,” and that trip morphed into China and Thailand.

Latrice: I was doing the Master’s program at USC, and we had classes in Shanghai. I said, “If you guys want to go, I think I can get the school to help us all with our visas and the planning.” Greg and Max always add someplace to the trip –we’re not going all the way to China and not seeing some other places over there. The USC staff helped arrange visas for the group, which was eight to 10 of us. Then four or five more joined us in Thailand.

Gregory: That was our first branded trip; we made it a collective. We said, “Hey, let’s give it a name,” and that’s when we initially started as the Dirty Dozen.

There was also a retirement party somewhere in there, too, if I recall.

Earl: It was my retirement party in Cabo San Lucas. I wanted to travel instead of a regular retirement dinner. This was in 2016 before the China and Thailand trip. I didn’t want my retirement announced at work. So after I retired, I wanted to travel. I told Zebb, “Let’s just go somewhere.” We contacted Trinh. Trinh is one of those people who …

Zebbra: Coordinates things …

Earl: …coordinates everything, so Trinh set it up at this special restaurant in Cabo called the Mona Lisa. She set up the dinner for us, and we all met in Cabo and stayed there for a week. That sparked a discussion of “Let’s do something like this again,” so that following year is when some of us went to China and the rest of us met them in Thailand. That spawned the Dirty Dozen.

Four Corners

Give us a quick rundown of the places you’ve visited so far.

Trinh: Jamaica, Aruba, Cabo, Greece, Italy, Croatia …

Max Reyes: Montenegro.

Trinh: Some just came back from Costa Rica, Peru …

Zebbra: We visited Ecuador and Peru in South America.

Max Reyes: Washington, DC.

Max Reyes: Machu Picchu.

Latrice: We’re on our way to Vietnam.

Trinh: Vietnam and Thailand.

Max Reyes: Cambodia.

Trinh: Malaysia and Singapore.

Zebbra: In 2017 when we went to Thailand, we visited Bangkok and Pattaya. This time when we visit Thailand in March we will do Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Earl: Aruba was where Greg and Latrice got married, and it was quite an experience.

Trinh: It united the group together. We came together and got to know each other a little bit more.

Earl: Absolutely.

So, for the record, we have three couples here – the Rodgerses, the Reyeses, and Greg and Latrice.

Latrice: Yes.


Gregory: Lucky me!

Choosing Locations

Does everyone get a turn choosing a location?

Trinh: Greg, show them our list.

Zebbra: Is that the list behind you?

Trinh: No, that’s my bills to pay!

Gregory: We meet at least annually at someone’s house. We throw a bunch of ideas out there and see what sticks. We take our own personal travels with our kids, our family, ourselves, too, but we try to save a couple of side trips with members of the CPP, too. We try to figure all that out, and plan our next few years. We negotiate our travels.

Latrice: Once we have a location, we then try to figure out what we’ll do there. Max and Greg will get on the phone and say, well, if we’re going there, what other cities can we add? Eventually they start emailing us. “If we’re going to this place, we might as well do all of these cities.” We can leave a meeting and say we’re going to one location, and by the time it’s all planned out, it might change. It always ends up growing!

The CCCP’s white board, where travel plans are made or saved till next time.

Earl: Yes!

Gregory: I have a mantra that says, “I didn’t come this far just to come this far,” so if I’m going to go somewhere and there’s something within a decent proximity I want to go there as well.

Max Reyes: I agree.

Gregory: Max agrees!

Zebbra: For the South American trip, I overheard Latrice and Ethel talking about taking a trip to Machu Picchu, and I said, “Wait a minute. You guys are going where? That sounds good. I want to go.” With me I’m all about the Seven Wonders of the World. I wanted in! They were very sweet about allowing us to jump in on their trip. I did the same thing with their European cruise (Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece). I asked if the Rodgerses could join them and they were totally okay with it.

Ethel: Of course you were invited. If you are able, then always go. I’m glad you went.

How did you handle your travel during the pandemic? 

Zebbra: There was no travel.

Latrice: We were all pouting.

Zebbra: We were sad.

Earl: We were all locked up in our homes.

Did you have one that got canceled?

Zebbra: Yes, we were going on an Alaskan cruise in September 2020. That got canceled.

Latrice: We were just trying to stay safe and healthy. That was our concern for everybody.

Earl: And sane.

Latrice: To come out of this pandemic safe and healthy so we could pick it back up where we left off.

Trinh: Even though we plan a lot of trips, with side trips and main trips, I’ve never felt pressure to go to all of them because something might be outside of my allotted vacation time and budget. It’s no problem at all with anyone in this group. They’ve always supported me.

Latrice: Right. If you can go, go. If you can’t, you don’t.

Experiencing the World

What do you love about traveling? And what’s not so good about it?

Trinh: We accept the things that we can’t control and just move along. I enjoy everybody’s perspective on what they see and what we do. Everybody’s open to new things, and they’ll just try it. If they don’t like it, the next time they’ll just say, “Nope, it wasn’t for me.”

For me the bad part of traveling is sitting on the airplane for 15, 10 or 12 hours and losing of the luggage. But the number one best part is traveling with this amazing group of people who are very open to everything and trying new experiences.

Gregory: This being a group of all type-A personalities mostly – we’ve got managers and engineers; everybody’s always been in charge of something – I’m naturally curious. Everybody else is naturally curious. We’re all game for pretty much anything, and it’s fun to hang off the clock with people you’ve spent 30 years of your life with, to “kick it into the reality portion of life.” Work is one thing to me. What we do in our free time is our reality. Being able to enjoy the company of your friends in the real world and have it work is pretty rare, so I truly appreciate being in this group. It’s an eclectic group, and that’s why it works.

Zebbra: It’s not always just traveling. We do other things, like 5K runs together. We may go to dinner at each other’s house, or we may just go out to dinner as a group.

Earl: It’s more like a family. Our personalities seem to click.

Ethel: We were all colleagues and friends outside of work. We know what works for us, and we know each other’s personalities. We genuinely care about each other.

Gregory: Yes.

Max Reyes: I love to travel. There’s this saying, “If you never go, you’ll never know.” I’m very inquisitive. I like to see things I’ve never seen before. I like to eat food I’ve never eaten before. It’s a way of acquiring knowledge.

Latrice: Max is our resident historian; he’s going to know all about wherever we’re going.

A First-Rate LAX

We at the Club think that LA is blessed with a first-rate airport and Airports Dept. It’s undergoing a massive transformation at the moment, but we think we’re lucky to have this incredible facility. You use it all the time. How do you feel about it?

Trinh: When I go to other countries’ airports and compare them, it’s like no comparison to what we have here in Los Angeles. We just came back from India. The airports in India and in Germany have nothing on LAX, which was very easy coming and going, and finding our gates.

Latrice: It’s going to be even better when all the construction is done.

Trinh: Yes.

Max Reyes: Speaking of the City, I’ll add that none of this would be possible, all the traveling that we’ve been doing, without the great benefits that we got from the City. We had a very, very good retirement package, and that allows us to basically do what we’re doing now.

Earl: Absolutely.

‘Tarzan’ and Bey

You must have funny stories about travel. Share a few.

Gregory: I have one! On our first branded trip as the Dirty Dozen, when we went to China and Thailand, our member Steve went to order some Thai food. When they brought him his dish, he told the Thai chef that that wasn’t how you cook Thai food.

Trinh: He was telling the Thai chef how to cook Thai food … in Thailand!

Gregory: We got a big laugh out of that one.

Max Reyes: On our way back from the Amazon we had to stop and have some guinea pig barbecue.

Latrice: We stopped by the side of the road and got some barbecue. This animal was on this skewer – it was a guinea pig. They chopped up the guinea pig to have us taste it, but I didn’t taste it.

Gregory: Guinea pig tastes like chicken. I figured I didn’t come this far to come this far. If I’m there I’m going to try the local delicacy. It was okay. I don’t have to ever do it again, but it was okay.

Max Reyes: I tried it. The beer drowned out the taste of the guinea pig.

Zebbra: Also in Thailand we took a jungle excursion. Somehow a tick got on my head, and I kept asking everybody, “What is this thing on my head?” I was told it was a hair bump. Those who saw it agreed that it was a bump or pimple.

Trinh: We thought it was a pimple.

Gregory: Or a mole.

Zebbra: Three days later I looked in the mirror, and then I said, “Oh my God, I feel something moving” and it fell out of my hair into the sink! That sucker was full. It was nice and fat with my blood! I took a picture and I sent it to everybody. I said, “This is your mole/pimple!”

Latrice: And that’s how Ethelinda found her tick on her head, too!

Earl: I don’t know about Ethel, but Zebb’s been crazy ever since that happened! [laughing]

Max Reyes: Another time, we were in Beijing. We were at the Forbidden City, and Latrice had her hair in these long braids, and locals were trying to touch her braid to take pictures – they were trying to be sneaky, to stand right next to her without her knowing and taking pictures. So the guide kept telling them, “Stay away. Stop taking pictures.” When all that commotion was going on, I said, “Okay, look, it’s Jay-Z and Beyonce. If you want to take pictures with Jay-Z and Beyonce, it’s 100 yuan.” People pulled out their money, and the tour guide said, “No, no. You can’t do that. You can’t take pictures with them.”

Gregory: We were celebrities.

Latrice: They were very enamored with the long braids and wanted to touch me, and then they did touch me. I didn’t know what was going on.

I can see some resemblance. And Earl looks like Jay-Z.

Latrice: It was fun.

Ethel: And in the Amazon rainforest, in Ecuador, what about the Tarzan tree, when everybody tried to ride on that vine?

Earl: When Zebb hit the ground, it sounded like a car crash.

Zebbra: When I swung on the tree, I thought the ground was right below me, so I let the vine go to drop to the ground, but I kept falling until I hit the ground. It was more of a distance to the ground than I realized, but I wasn’t hurt.

How high was it?

Zebbra: It was the largest tree in the rainforest, so they told us. The tour guide said, “Anybody want to swing from the vine?” Of course I raised my hand, and I did it. But all of the sudden I thought, “Okay, so how am I supposed to get off now?” I thought the ground was right below me, but it wasn’t. I only dropped about two to three feet, but it felt like 20 feet. Earl insists I let out a big yell. I did, I think.

Earl: They call them “walking trees” because they have large roots, and they actually move over time to get sunlight because the forest is so thick. The trees actually move over a period of time to get the sunlight so that they can continue to grow.

Latrice: Some of us knew better than to try to “Tarzan” our way across, so I left that to Zebbra.

Zebbra: I was 63 years old swinging on a vine. I should’ve known better, but I’ve always been a tomboy, so that was my thing. I hit the ground and then fell backwards, but then I jumped right up and yelled “Yay!”

Earl: I told you she was crazy.

Retired, as Friends

You started out as friends. Has this made you better friends?

Ethel: Yes.

Earl: Absolutely. We’re more than just friends. We’re family. We care about each other. We check in on each other. We’ve gotten to know each other’s families more after the travels started.

Latrice: We attend each other’s kids’ events. Whatever event is happening, any life event, we try to make sure that we are supporting each other.

Do you recommend traveling together?

Gregory: I say yes, but I say it with a grain of salt. I suggest people start small, and I suggest they find out what they can tolerate, find out exactly what you’re working with and be certain that you’re compatible. Traveling can also end a friendship as quickly as it can solidify one.

Latrice: It’s happened. We’re still friends.

What do you love about being Retired? 

Earl: Every day is Saturday. When you’re working, Saturday means you’re coming off a full work week. You’ve got Sunday as a cushion, so you don’t have to worry about getting up and going to work on Sunday; Saturday is the day that you really don’t have to worry about the end of the last week, because it’s over. You don’t have to worry about the next week coming. If you can imagine every day feeling like that, that’s how we feel. Every day is Saturday.

Max Reyes: The only bad thing about being Retired is that you only get one paycheck a month! But other than that, every weekend is a three-day weekend.

Earl: Yes. And if you didn’t know how to budget before you retired, you know how to budget now!

Latrice: Those of us who are still working sometimes get tired of hearing “every day is Saturday.” Every day is not Saturday, yet.

Trinh: We need a calendar. Someone should create a calendar where every day is a Saturday. There’s no Sunday through Saturday. It should be Saturday the 1st, Saturday the 2nd, and so forth.

Gregory: I’m on it.

You’ll have that done … by Saturday!

Zebbra: We even forget – sometimes when the holidays roll around, it’s like, “Wait, what day is it?”

Feeling Young

What’s your advice to others thinking about forming their own travel group?

Earl: I would say this: If you look at all of us, we look young. I have friends who have retired at roughly the same time and are the same age as myself. I’m 69 but they look older. The traveling we’ve done and the camaraderie we’ve developed have revived us to where we feel young and energetic. In the past I would remind folks of the “30-30 Plan” – 30 years of working and 30 years of enjoying a good retirement! We’ve accomplished the first 30 years and are working on the second. We look forward to being around each other, and I truly believe that’s what’s going on with us.

Zebbra: It’s also a motivation to stay healthy and fit. For the women, if we go on a vacation, we want to put our swimsuit on and look good in it. We’re constantly working out and trying to eat right and lose weight, so by the time we get on our trip we look good. It’s a motivation. It keeps us fit and healthy and young-looking.

Ethel: Traveling is a good way to force you to get healthy.

And we plan ahead. We have years to look forward to. We look forward, not back.

To the Cali Passport Posse, thank you so much for sharing your time and your stories about your travels together. We appreciate and honor you, and this is our way to say thank you for your service with the city of Los Angeles.

Earl: Thank you for the opportunity.

Zebbra: Thank you.

Ethel: Thanks.

Gregory: Thank you, everybody.

Trinh: Bye. Happy Friday– I mean happy Saturday! 



Club COO Summy Lam photographs the Cali Passport Posse before they head away again for another fun trip! See the feature story for names and identifications.