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Sue's Highway One Classic

18 April 2016

Sue Bird, Associate in our Business Group, had a classic adventure earlier this month, driving and exploring the infamous Highway One, which takes in some of the California coast’s best known attractions.

Setting out, Sue took a slight detour and headed North  to experience one of the highlights of her trip, a visit to Yosemite National Park where she was very lucky to witness the Yosemite Firefall (pictured here) in all its glory.  This natural phenomenon occurs only around the second week of February, when the setting sun hits Horsetail Falls at an exact angle to illuminate the upper reaches of the waterfall.  Hundreds of spectators gather each year to see the waterfall glow orange and red at sunset, but, if conditions are not perfect Yosemite Firefall will not glow.

Sue also had one of her worst experiences in the National Park – trying her hand at pioneering, she attempted to find a path over what she thought were dead leaves but when she stepped off a log she plumetted neck deep into freezing cold melt water – a rather uncomfortable journey back to her lodgings for Sue!

She then set out for Highway One, starting off in Cambria, “a pleasant little place just off the highway”, and headed for San Francisco.



First stop was Hearst Castle, which for many years was the largest private residence in the US and now vies with Disneyland for the title of the State’s “most popular attraction”.  The house was started in 1919, financed by the newspaper and movie tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, and took 28 years to complete.  Hearst, whose lonely lavish lifestyle was the subject of Orson Welles’ movie, Citizen Kane, filled the house with carvings, furnishings and works of art from European castles and cathedrals.  Pictured here is the exquisite indoor swimming pool.  The house is now run and maintained by California State Park.

Driving on along the long and winding road between Big Sur and Monterey Peninsula is not for the faint hearted.  The highway is hugged by the Santa Lucia Mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other and frequent landslides cause it to crumble down to the Ocean.

Sue stopped off along the way in Carmel, but unfortunately neither Clint Eastwood (former Mayor of Carmel) nor Doris Day were home.  If you are willing to pay an entrance fee, you can take a 17 mile drive to admire the luxurious private homes and see how the other half live.

Monterey was the last port of call before San Francisco, a chance for Sue to visit the National Steinbeck Center, a museum dedicated to writer John Steinbeck whose most famous books include Of Mice and Men and East of Eden.

Monterey Bay is abundant with a huge diversity of sea life and is the place to go for whale watching.  For a relatively modest cost Sue joined a whale watching boat trip and was rewarded with sightings of grey and humpback whales, together with elephant seals and pelicans (see pictures below).

Back to reality we asked Sue where her next “big adventure” would be taking her - "only Norway and New York in October", came the reply.

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