Santa Barbara Road Trip Journal: Day 2
I am one for early morning adventures: whether it is a sunrise hike, a 6am Pilates class, or just a quiet morning with my notebooks, I find solace in the pre-dawn hours.
I usually find myself most inspired during this time, my imagination not yet tamed by the day. Maybe it is the pure quiet of my surroundings, a sense of solitude being awake before the rest of the world has risen.
Last Monday morning it was still dark when our alarms woke us at 5am. We mumbled good mornings as we shuffled around each other in the bathroom, bleary-eyed and half asleep. When we made a pit stop at Starbucks for Venti mistos, the sun was just beginning to wake the world.
We decided to be sunrise chasers, clutching coffees in hand and watching the rays of the first light filter over the peaks of Santa Barbara. While we made it up to our destination shortly after sunrise, we found the view hadn’t diminished. Golden light and swirling banks of fog played up the scenery stealing our attention and our words.
Knapp’s Castle, our destination for the morning, is the ruins of an old mansion built back in 1916. Shortly after it was completed, the main structures were wiped out by a wildfire, leaving behind the stone foundation along with a few walls and fireplaces and a completely unobstructed view.
Knapp’s is about a 30 minute drive from near State Street in Santa Barbara, up a winding mountain road with breathtaking views of rolling green hills and the ocean in the distance.
A nondescript pull out on the right marked our spot for parking. After a scramble through a rusty gate on the opposite side of the road, we followed a dirt trail for a short hike around the mountain’s bend to the ruins.
We climbed over the walls, scaled the fireplace (or attempted to, in my case), walked out on ledges and just sat and stared. The air was still and silent except for the morning bird calls, and for a moment we never wanted to leave.
Finally our rumbling tummies and the urge for more coffee called us down the mountain. A self-proclaimed coffee aficionado, one of my favorite things to do while traveling is visit local coffee shops. After my sister told me about French Press Coffee, I added it to our list of destinations.
Oh, amen. Coffee lovers and scone lovers of the world, unite.
The staff was extremely helpful and patient with us as we poured over our options, explaining their pour over and cold brew processes, the various roasts, and of course, what was in each of the delicious homemade scones.
I opted for my usual, black coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon and splash of steamed almond milk, and a strawberry pistachio scone. Giddy from caffeine, adventure, and lack of sleep, we soaked up the sun at a table on the patio before planning the rest of our day.
Next stop? Beach camping in Ventura County!
East Camino Cielo (Forest Route 5N12)
Los Padres National Forest
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The French Press
1101 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Photo credit: Once again, thank you to my talented travel buddies, Angie & Megan