"Practising Retiring" Redlats's Profile

Our cat helping with my VT pages

Let me introduce Harley. Harley is a very personable cat. I'm sure he thinks my wife and I are just big cats.

Harley is tough on our local rodents. He doesn't think much of catfood, preferring instead to dine on mice, rabbits, squirrels, anything slower than he is. (You should hear the squeal a bunny makes when Harley brings them home to play. I always thought of rabbits as quiet creatures.)

He also doesn't think much of me reading spending time on VT (and ignoring him), and expresses his displeasure by helping me on my keyboard.

Recent travels

In March 2009, we spent a week in Miami followed by a cruise with our family. Cruises are a fun way to vacation with family.

In September 2008, we visited the new hometown of our son. We had an enjoyable two weeks in London Ontario - getting to a few towns nearby and enjoying a VT meeting with members from Windsor and Toronto.

Our 2007 March trip was to Southern California, and included our first cruise! Our fall 2007 vacation was only a few days in Calgary with family as we were busy working on downsizing and fixing our current house to sell.

Our 2005 and 2006 Feb. trips were to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Also a co-worker and I did a whirlwind tour of Texas after a conference there.

One problem I have is that I don't make enough time to complete my VT pages before we go on our next trip. I am slowly creating pages -- Approximate VT page status of the past few year's holidays:

90% - London, Stratford, Saint Jacobs, Grand Bend, Port Stanley, Ontario (Sep 2008)
0% - Winter vacation - Cruise to Mexico, days in Las Vegas, family time in Palm Springs (March/April 2007)
0% - Business trip to Newark, NJ (Nov 2006)
0% - Road trip to British Columbia (Sept 2006)
0% - Texas road trip (May 2006)
95% - Campeche, Chetumal, Bacalar, Mexico (Feb 2006)
95% - Mérida, Uxmal, Celestùn, Dzibilchaltùn & Progreso, Mexico (Mar 2005)
95% - Newfoundland (which is a fairly complete guide to touring Canada's tenth province) - complete except for fixups
30% - Nova Scotia (which is an incomplete guide to touring Nova Scotia) (fall 2004)
50% - Banff (summer 2004)
10% - Grand Canyon & environs (Sedona, Flagstaff, etc.) (Feb 2004)
95% - Tucson (Feb 2004) - also mostly complete
95% - Germany (which has pointers to the German places we visited on a jaunt from Switzerland up to D?sseldorf to attend a VT meeting).
0% - Switzerland (fall 2003)

Notice my pattern? I finish the shorter part of my trip, but the longer part doesn't get done.

Recent events - 2007-8

We are in the middle stages of planning for retirement. About a year ago, we started this planning process. What have we decided so far?

- September 2006: we visit the BC interior to scope it out as a potential new stomping grounds. After finding out the cost of living there, we decide against moving to the BC interior. Our preferred snowbird plan is to enjoy the spring, summer and autumn in Canada and go south for the winter, and that is just as easily done from Winnipeg as Kelowna.

- January to March 2007: we spend weekends checking out Winnipeg condos. We decide against moving into a condo -- too many rules and limitations - for instance no gardens and no composting!

By the way, this is our computer desk. We look out at our front yard when sitting at our computer table.

- April 2007: we hire a realtor to help us find a house in Winnipeg.

- June 2007: my better half (a nurse) has retires from her primary job as a labour and delivery nurse and is only teaching and picking up odd shifts now.

- May to September 2007: we spend weekends searching for a smaller home in Winnipeg. We probably have seen 50 to 70 homes so far.

- Sept: We make an offer on a house and it is accepted (our first couple of offers were not).

- Sept & Oct: We continue the process of getting rid of stuff. A garage sale, signs up for people to buy/take stuff, etc.

- Nov 2007: We take possession of the new house. We decide to own two houses for a few months and then sell the old one. One of our kids will move into the new house, and we will move from old to new one van-load at a time over the winter.

- Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb: We seem to have added to our work load rather than decreased it. We have bought a fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer for the new house. Have repainted two bedrooms at the new house - They are now ready to be offices and we will start bringing things from the offices in our old house to the new.

- Mar 08 We still have quite a bit of down-sizing to do -- our new house is half the size of the old one. I don't know if I am cut-throat enough to chuck all of the clutter it took us 30+ years to accumulate. It will be an interesting period ahead. Anybody need some furniture? some kids toys? some books - only read once. Every week we have more boxes full to go to Goodwill, recycling or garbage.

Our travel buddy

This is our travel companion. He's been accompanying us for a few years now. He's still a baby, and will likely stay that way, but he's travelled to a few countries. Perhaps he will meet others like him in a VT meeting one day.

My pages So far, my most extensive Virtual Tourist pages are Winnipeg (top 5), Honolulu (top 10), Minneapolis (top 5) and Newfoundland (top 5) is a guide to visiting our tenth province (which is special because of its history and scenery and the fact it is on an island).

Just a plug for my home country - Canada is a wonderful place to visit - lots of nature, friendly folk, fairly inexpensive costs (especially when the Canadian dollar is low against the US dollar).

The US and Canadian dollars have significantly changed in value in the past few years. The Canadian dollar was worth 63 cents per US dollar at the beginning of 2003, but it has risen significantly. By December 2004 the Canadian dollar was worth 83 cents US, so we visited North Dakota to shop again -- the first time we did that in the past 8 or 9 years. In late 2007 the Canadian dollar went over the US dollar in value, and it has hovering around par for a few months now.

My birth country Switzerland is a great place to visit as well - also lots of scenery, friendly folk, but not inexpensive.

Our travels

I have travelled in a number of different fashions. First, I was born in Europe in 1950 and my parents dragged me from Switzerland to London, England (1951) to Toronto, Canada (1953) to Winnipeg (1959). After school (1972) I backpacked solo in Switzerland for two months. After marriage, my wife and I had to go back to Europe to visit our roots (1976?, 1978 and 1982). With the advent of kids (1980 and 1983), our travelling was more car-bound, and we crossed Canada and the northern United States coast to coast, and visited vacation sites within a work-holiday driving distance of our home.

I am sure that part of the reason for my love of travelling is due to my mom and dad - who picked up stakes and moved some five times in their lives -- from Switzerland where they were born to the UK when I was one, to Toronto when I was 3, Winnipeg when I was 9, and my mom moved to Calgary where she spent the last 10 years of her life.

Our kids have reached the age where they take care of themselves (or so we reassure ourselves), and we have started flying again - Hawaii (2001), Uruguay (2002), San Francisco (Feb. 2003), Switzerland (Sep./Oct. 2003), Arizona (Mar. 2004), the Canadian Maratimes (Sept 2004) and Yucatan, Mexico (Feb./Mar. 2005 & Feb. 2006).


I am a lazy VT tip grouper - of Winnipeg, Ottawa, Edmonton, Zurich and Tucson. If anyone wants to do a better job of grouping of any of these cities, I'd be willing to pass the job over to them.

I have seen other VT members add lists of their likes and dislikes. I presume this is in effort of finding VT members/travellers similar to themselves; presumably if you are like me, we would like similar travel.

I find it a difficult task for me. After re-reading and revising this list a few times, I realize I have strong opinions on a lot of issues, but don't think about them often. (Thanks to VT member Suet for giving me the incentive to add this.)

Likes: travelling, i.e. when travelling -- trying to imagine what live was like there or in that era,

my family,

integrity and honesty,

being with people, thought-provoking discussions,

♫ music ♫ - especially piano and mournful poets like Leonard Cohen and Amy Lee of Evanescence,

animals, logic, being lazy, eating,

trying to be sustainable/environmental, gardening,

people reading my tips in VT,

my teams winning -- in hockey or football,

(I am still thinking of others) .......


people hurting each other or animals, injustices,

cleaning up other people's messes, tobacco smoke,

waiting in lines (queues), filling out income tax forms (even though I am good at it)

being overweight,

TV (except for news, movies and some sport),

spending time shopping - especially buying anything that needs dusting,

being hot (30C is my limit),

not speaking Spanish, idle chitchat,

western music and obscene rap music,

(still thinking), .....


no favourite colours, animals or flowers,

no one favourite food, can take or leave wine or alcohol,

no favourite movie stars.

I promise to respond to all emails (lazy people are terrible at initiating emails).

I am often in VT's backup Chat.


One of our kids has started the hobby tropical fish - something we used to do 20 years ago. It is fun to see. He has two 10 gallon tanks and has actually had a baby tetra - something we were never able to do (adult tetras eat anything that moves that is smaller than them, so for a baby to survive is pretty amazing).


Giampiero recommends the following system for ratings. I have started to use it.

1 Star: The Tip is empty, off-topic, inaccurate, offensive, or copied from another source.

2 Star: The Tip is incomplete and offers little or no insight. I use this for a reasonable picture but no text.

3 Star: The Tip is average.

4 Star: The Tip is thorough, accurate, and helpful.

5 Star: The Tip is superior, offering excellent advice and insight you might not find elsewhere

Note, although I try to use this system consistently, I do not read or rate restaurant or hotel tips.

Since the multiple photos have been introduced, I have decided to increase my ratings by one star when they are illustrated by more than one good photo.

M:1,526,1411. J:65,455,1496. J:171,471,1760. A:25,486,1858. S:31,508,2038. O:79,535,2214. N:77,548,2391. D:110,560,2510. J:50,571,2720. F:37,602,2902. M:88,613,3047. A:99,623,3212. M:118,536,3400. J:185,512,3650. J:69,503,3842. A:13,510,3971. S:225,513,4224. O:29,524,4308. N:93,545,4514. D:175,553,4719. J:34,550,4983. F:113,564,5066. M:41,600,5200. A:67,577,5421. M:192,514,5750,407,7. J:71,486,6037,410,7. J:19,482,6171,410,8. A:122,464,6499,413,9. S:101,455,6765,421,10. O:44,457,7032,422,10. N:78,460,7291,424,10. D:73,451,7515,424,10. J:72,442,7768,425,10. F:73,437,8051,425,10. M:48,436,8201,425,10. A:178,419,8580,460,10. M:104,391,8973,470,10. J:133,387,9300,472,11. J:43,387,9600,472,11. A:45,382,9870,475,11. S:126,381,10230,479,13. O:102,363,10500,479,12. N:12,371,10780,481,12. D:5,373,10940,488,12. J:36,363,11150,488,12. F:51,366,11427,488,12. M:0,377,11610,488,12. A:5,383,11880,488,11. M:95,375,12150,496,11. J:13,372,12400,496,10. J:14,383,12625,496,12. A:1,384,12870,496,11. S:7,386,13080,496,11. O:187,359,13145,496,11. N:44,365,13668,496,12. D:44,362,13895,497,12. J:1,367,14100,498,12. F:11,373,14345,498,12. M:15,375,14530,498,12. A:11,373,14670,498,12. M:21,363,14820,499,13. J:18,365,15000,500,12. J:3,370,15150,502,11. A:13,371,15350,505,11. S:16,359,15670,507,13. O:19,361,15925,517,13. N:25,363,16070,538,13. D:14,359,16235,538,12. J:3,360,16400,538,12. F:0,370,16540,538,13. M:46,372,16660,538,14. A:4,381,16790,538,13. M:34,384,16920,537,13. J:6,385,17080,537,13. J:14,381,17195,537,13. A:15,375,17285,537,13. S:3,383,17445,537,12. O:1,384,17555,537,12. N:4,389,17640,538,12. D:6,396,17690,538,13. J:0,422,17770,538,12. F:38,424,17850,538,12. M:3,428,17900,538,11. A:0,430,17960,538,11. M:1,432,18070,538,11. J:0,437,18175,538,11. S:0,442,18425,538,11. N:1,446,18535,538,12. D:0,447,18595,538,12. F:4,451,18685,538,12. M:0,453,18735,538,12. J:0,442,?,538,15.

  • Intro Updated Jul 1, 2012
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Comments (258)

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    Some interesting reading on your page......And someone is reading and rating your tips...you are 455.
    I really believe most rates come from fellow members browsing and exploring and enjoying the work of others....just my opinion of course. AND SOME RATE BACK...MANY DO NOT...THAT IS JUST HOW IT IS...
    There is very keen interest in historical type reviews that I have noticed...all really good work...but there is not so much following of the coffee shops, hotels, etc...and some locations are vastly more in demand than others...and of course high profile writers are followed too.

    no doubt what G said is the it and a bit of rating fairly but....
    Oh my goodness I just rate 5 if the tip is well written and has a photo....I used to be an educator among other roles in nursing and all that fancy rating and committee type interviews leave me cold...a bit of gut feel is what I like but for me VT is for fun....no use platying the gane if nobody knows the rules either...and most do not...LOL

    and I love your cat

    • Redlats's Profile Photo
      Feb 27, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Thanks for browsing through and rating my pages. The reason my 'ranking' is 455 is that I have been on VT for 13+ years; my rank has not changed much in ten years. And at one point, VT was were I spent most of my Internet time.

      Yes, I don't spend much time reading or writing coffee shop or hotel recommendations. I travel to see nature or history, where I eat or stay is not worth writing about. Plus I find restaurant/hotel reviews are only good if they are recent.

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Jun 26, 2013 at 6:07 AM

    Hey Lats. Haven't seen you here in a while. Hope all is well.

    • Redlats's Profile Photo
      Jun 27, 2013 at 3:20 AM

      Yep, all is well. It is true, I don't check VT daily like I did a few years ago. Facebook has taken over for my every-day functions like keeping in touch with news and people - I even post some of my vacation photos there, but to a much smaller audience.

  • Suet's Profile Photo
    May 23, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    Hiya Lats! Sorry I missed your birthday, hope you had a good one!

    • Redlats's Profile Photo
      Jun 27, 2013 at 3:33 AM

      It is perfectly fine to miss my birthday. All they do is mark the passage of time, and I already have enough aches and pains to do that. I hope all is well, and you are still travelling a lot. We are visiting our kids in Ottawa at the moment and heading home after Canada Day.

  • Alicia.'s Profile Photo
    May 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    HAPPY BELATED B-DAY!!! May all your dreams come true! Enjoy!

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Hey Lats. Happy Birthday.

  • Waalewiener's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    Hi Lats Happy Birthday

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Lats, Happy Birthday. PJ

  • kemisteryoso's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Happy Birthday Redlats....

  • Waalewiener's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Hi Lats Happy Birthday . Have a great day.

  • olja1234's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    My best Birthday wishes to you! Greetings from Slovenia.

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