All Our Bags are Packed, We’re Ready to Go… Well, Almost

One week from now we will be landing in Barcelona to begin our adventure! Unfortunately, no time for the Gaudy sites this trip.

This past week was a busy one in the Wells home. Thursday was my final day with my client with my client @MesaArtsCenter. They gave me a wonderful send off with cake, card and gift. It is truly wonderful to retire on a high note. My clients are appreciative and poised for success. I feel very grateful to have been able to serve so many worthy nonprofits over the past 30 years.

As many of you saw on our social media accounts, we packed our items that will be shipped to Valencia via freighter. That was a chore onto itself! Weeks of packing, down to the wire, Craig palletized all of our boxes on a nice cool day of about 105 degrees+ in the garage! The evening before the trucking company was set to arrive, we wrapped the entire contents in plastic and strapping. Talk about hot, hard work!

The Shipping Surgeon!

The trucking company arrived with a 40ft. semi to pick up our pallet. The driver gave us an A+ for our packing job. He said we wouldn’t believe how many folks are completely unprepared for shipping. I am so glad that Craig is a great researcher and does his homework.

Holy moly! An 18-wheeler picked up our “life on a pallet” Valencia here we come!

We had a dry run packing our suitcases last week, and are convinced we are not going to get everything we want into four bags. Now we have to determine if we will ship one more box and if so, what items to include. Flying premier on @Fly_Norwegian we are able to bring four bags of 22kg each. Decisions, decisions.

The movers come tomorrow to pick up our belonging to store in a 5 x 15’ container. Family photos, artwork and our few favorite pieces of furniture.

The holiday weekend was spent with friends sharing memories, food and wine. While there is sadness in leaving our close, cherished friends, we hope they will come visit so we can share our new country with them. Both being outgoing individuals, we plan meet new folks who will become our new Spanish amigos.






It’s All in the Details

Two weeks…down to the wire…the devil is in the details…do or die…ahhhhhh!

It’s really happening! Visas in hand; flights booked; packing, packing and more packing.

When we first took an inventory (metaphorically) of our home, we determined everything would fall into three categories:

  • Storing items to save
  • Shipping to Spain
  • Selling everything else

You might think this is a very difficult process. While it was emotional, it has been very liberating to rid ourselves of the belongings of our 3,000 square foot home, 50+ years of collecting “stuff.” The challenging part was determining what items we REALLY cherished that would fit into a small storage unit. What would you save/store? This is what we decided to keep:

  • Our mid-century modern teak dining room table
  • Handmade leather chair and ottoman (family heirloom)
  • My mother’s maple dressers (used by my grandmother, mother and both my boys)
  • Ten pieces of our favorite artwork – with both being collectors prior to meeting, then collecting together for the past eight years, and Craig taking up painting in 2010, we had an enormous collection of paintings, ceramics, glass, etc.
  • Four plastic storage bins of family photos and keepsakes

On New Year’s Day we began decluttering by inviting our friends to an open house/art sale. While we relieved ourselves of quite a bit, we probably have 100+ paintings and other pieces of artwork left.

All other furniture has been given to family, sold or will be sold by our estate sale company within the next few weeks.

IMG_3161Packing to Save

Storing Items to Save

After much research, we chose Closet Box @ClosetBoxMe. Our decision was determined by price, service and offerings. In digging around for suitable storage facilities, we discovered that Closet Box stores all contents in one large climate-controlled warehouse in specific-sized boxes or storage containers. Based on what we plan on storing, we will use a 5’ x 15’ container. However, if we can fit into a smaller, or need a larger box, that will be determined when they pick up our items. Closet Box contracts with local moving companies to pick up, blanket and wrap furniture and our boxes for delivery to the storage facility. Every time I spoke with a representative they were articulate, knew their product and were not pushy sales people. Our space is running around $100 per month. Unfortunately, without owning a home, no insurance company will cover our items in storage, so we will have to fork out $40 mo. for $5K of coverage.

Shipping to Spain


Our boxes getting ready to palletize to ship to Spain

Our original plan was to pack two large suitcases each and one carry-on. However, Craig’s art supplies are in abundance, very expensive and seemed ridiculous to sell everything for pennies on the dollar only to repurchase in Spain. And, trying to figure out where to find the best art supply stores would be a chore onto itself.

We originally looked into the typical freight carriers, which, when shipping overseas, the price varies greatly. Fortunately, we are not in a hurry to have our belongings join us, so ocean freight carrier seemed a great route. Reading other expat blogs, we found an ad for @ShippingQuest and reached out for a quote.

With a minimum of 35 cubic feet, we realized we might as well fill the container with additional clothes and household items. Pricing for pick up at our home, delivery to LA, shipping to Valencia port for approximately 16 boxes/600 lbs. will be around $500. So far we’ve got 12 boxes/400 lbs. and still have bathroom and office to pack. We just received our bill of lading and shipping labels with instructions that we must palletize the boxes. This should be an adventure unto itself!

FYI–we marked each box heading to Spain and each box we are saving, keeping a detailed inventory on a spreadsheet. This will assist with tracking down any items needed during our adventure.

Selling the Rest

The last of our furniture, belongings and our two cars will be sold via estate sale after our departure. Thanks @IntegrityEstateLiquidations.

P.S. You may wonder why we have Craig and a puppy for our featured image. 1) Pictures of boxes don’t draw much attention–but puppies do! 2) This past weekend we were in Flagstaff visiting our daughter Lauren and her partner Kevin who were fostering this adorable pup. We absconded her for the night. If we weren’t leaving the country, she would have come home with us! 







Eating Your Way Through The Turia Garden

This is my favorite Valencia blogger. Always great info about dining, history and more! Can’t wait to try her recommendations and perhaps go on a food adventure together. 21 days to Valencia!

Jill's Urban Food Crawls

We love living in the city but I must admit that, now and again, it is nice to escape the noise and the crowds and get back to nature. Fortunately, here in Valencia we can immerse ourselves among the trees, lakes, flora and fauna only a few blocks away in the Jardin del Turia.Jardines-Turia-Sun-Lounging

The Jardin del Turia (Turia Garden) is a nine-kilometer linear green space that runs through the city. Affectionately referred to as “El Rio” by locals, the park was built on the former riverbed of the Turia river, which was diverted to the south of the city after a devastating flood in 1957.Separate paths designated for pedestrians, runners, or bikes pass through wooded areas and manicured gardens.


Throughout the park you will find fountains, sculptures, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, athletic fields and sport facilities of all kinds. Monuments and museums of the city line the edges…

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We Did It!

We picked up our visas from the Spanish Consulate yesterday. The woman who assisted was lovely (as was the previous) and was delighted for us. She asked where we were planning to live and when we said Valencia, the gentleman next to us said, “That’s where I am from! Valencia is the best!” The Consulate employee said, “Yes, Valencia is lovely, but San Sebastian is best!” We all chuckled and told them we were looking forward to exploring all of Spain and San Sebastian was high on our list. This pleased her very much! Their warmth reminded us why we chose Spain and the kindness of its people.

But the best part of the day was spending time with our LA kids and beautiful granddaughter! Thank goodness for FaceTime! It would be a lot more difficult without being able to connect daily if necessary to see her and our newest addition (due this July in NYC) regularly, as well as our son and daughter here in Arizona. While it is very emotional to be moving far away, we know Ruthie has competent, capable, amazing parents–who promise to bring her to Spain every year!

Our singing sweetheart serenaded us on the way to dinner! 

As the final days tick by, we are reminded of lots of work still ahead–sorting, packing, selling, cleaning, storing. The saga continues…

The Beginning of Goodbye

We adore our friends and families. That being said, I believe the next few weeks saying goodbye to those we love will truly be the most difficult. Both Craig and my fathers are 89 years old. Fortunately, Craig’s dad is active and in great shape, playing golf and living quite well. My father has gone down hill since my mother’s passing in September—he misses her terribly.

Craig returned to his birthplace in Michigan to visit his father and other family. This weekend I returned to the town where my kids grew up and I lived for 20 years before moving to Phoenix in 2008 for my farewell to a few of my dearest friends.

The girls planned my going-away dinner at one of Prescott’s best restaurants, El Gato Azul. Owned and operated by phenomenal chef and restaurateur Barry Barbe. Gato is a crown jewel in the small town of Prescott, AZ. For more than a decade Barry has featured scrumptious tapas and Spanish-inspired, fusion entrees created for adventurous palates. The tiniest of eateries, tucked along-side Granite Creek and a huge office building, Gato is always packed to the hilt with locals and a few visitors lucky enough to discover this gem.

Round I – fresh, specially prepared tapas por mi y amigas.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

As we ordered our drinks, Barry returned to the kitchen to get creative with a Cinco de Mayo-inspired menu. He proceed to serve us four specially created tapas. The first was a duck taquito with a cilantro crème fraiche, mini chicken mole enchiladas that were savory and scrumptious. Barry filled a margarita glass with smoky and spicy colossal shrimp, and completed the first round of tapas with gazpacho-inspired salsa and chips.

We sipped our refreshing sangria and continued to enjoy our meal as we reminisced about all the special meals Barry created for us over the years including both my sons’ high school graduation parties, numerous holiday events and more.

Even though Gato was packed to the gills, Barry took the time to create three more personally inspired tapas. The next by far was totally Spanish and by far one of the extraordinary flavor—saffron croquette with a mushroom ragu and rosemary cream. OMG! The flavors melded together in delight!

Saffron Croquettes – LOVE!

Next was a roasted duck breast with goat cheese crostini with a Jezebel sauce. This sweet and spicy sauce gets its sweetness from apricot preserves and a spicy kick from mustard and horseradish.

Roasted duck & goat cheese crostini…it kept getting better!

The second round was topped off with a crab Caprese salad with fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.

Chunks of fresh crab meat melded beautifully with the mozzarella pearls and sweet tomatoes.

Stuffed to the gills, we had to finish our meal with a shared crème brulee that melted in our mouths.

The rest of the evening was spent walking around the quaint Courthouse Square and sharing stories of the past 25+ years and thoughts of what Craig and I will discover in Valencia. My friends reminded me at I would not have any trouble finding new, wonderful friends in Spain. (It’s my reserved and quiet personality that keeps me from meeting people…not!) I can only hope and pray they are as dear as the friendships I have developed here in Arizona.