I'm always on the lookout for the elusive penny smasher.
The "Rosicruician Egyptian Museum and Planetarium" is in San Jose, California. The place itself is hard to find, it's in the middle of a residential neighborhood. This penny is even harder to find once you're there. It's in the planetarium building, which s next door to the museum.
"Muir Woods National Monument" is a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, California. What can you say? It's beautiful, the trees are amazing, salmon spawn in the stream, there's any number of different cool hikes (and leisurely walks) you can take, and they have a penny smasher now.
I will say that I have not seen a lot of chipmunks in "Muir Woods National Monument", but who cares, there's plenty of other things to see there, and when you're done with the trees you can go out to Muir Beach, or hike up to the Tourist Club for a beverage.
"Muir Woods National Monument" is sort of in Mill Valley, California, but really Mill Valley is over the hill from Muir Woods. It's definitely worth visiting, but only if you like nature, trees, hiking, little baby deer, spawning salmon, and foreign tourists. It's not worth driving out to if you're going just for the smashed pennies.
"Muir Woods National Monument" has big trees. Not the biggest, they're Coast Redwoods, taller but not as big as the Giant Sequoia found elsewhere in the state. You're interested, aren't you? Here's some dude's impressions on the differences.
"The Mystery Spot" near Santa Cruz, California is one of those old roadside attractions that everybody around here has heard of, but nobody has been to. It's supposedly on a strange magnetic filed where balls roll up hill, compasses go crazy, and other strange things occur. I'm sure you can tell by now that I haven't been there and that I don't know how I got this penny. It's a mystery, of course.
"California Western Railroad" This one an oldie that I don't know where I got. Was it at the Alemany Flea MArket? could be. Anyway, this train ran or runs (anybody know) through the redwoods from Ft Bragg to Willits in northern California and was (is) coloquially known as the "Skunk Train". I have ridden it, in case you were wondering.
Back in the Summer of 2004, my niece Nicole went to Great America, an amusement park in Santa Clara and brought me back this penny and a few others. Now, I told her that she had to come up with some stories about getting the pennies, and she may have but I don't remember them. Typical.
"My Lucky Penny- Paramount's Great America" I haven't been there in years, my niece brought this penny back from there for me. She told me she was lucky to get them at all, even though I had given her copper pennies to smash for me, because everybody in the group she went with just wanted to ride the rides instead of finding the penny machines. Sheesh, can you imagine? Ride the rides? At an amusement park?
Yes, it's Scooby Doo. This one came from Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara, California. This amusement Park has had more Sponsors and had so many different cartoon character associated with it. I think originally it was all Hanna Barbera characters, like Deputy Dog and Quick Draw McGraw, and then it was Warner Brothers and now it's back to Scooby. Obviously I haven't done any research this time. I'm getting lazy.
"Paramount's Great America" So this amusement park in Santa Clara is now owned by Paramount (for a while now, I think) which is owned by Viacom which owns CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, UPN, Simon & Shuster, millions of billboards across the country, and most of the rest of the alphabet. Yippee! Corporate Media Entertainment! I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist, but a lot of our culture seems to be programed by a just few corporations. Just something to think about.
p.s. Viacom doesn't own me... anymore.
"Chabot Space and Science Center - Keep Looking Up" This place is over in the hills above Oakland, California. The've got a great big telescope there and I guess they have a bunch of other exhibits now. Do I sound like I'm guessing? It's because my friend Eric brought this one me. I didn't get it myself. More info!
"Lake Shasta Caverns" My co-worker Andy, ok he's my boss, or he was until recently... no don't start jumping to conclusions, I still have a job... sheesh anyway, Andy brought this one back from some weekend trip sometime in the last couple of years and I just left it sitting on my desk for months. Some kind of gratitude, huh... maybe that's why he's not my boss anymore.
"Turtle Bay" We went hiking at Mt. Lassen in August 2004. It was great. Lassen Volcanic National Park has tons of trails that lead you past mineral hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and roaring waterfalls. And there are hardly any people there. On your way back, you can whip over to Redding and smash this penny. (That's what I did.) find out about Mount Lassen.
Unlike Mount Lassen, "Turtle Bay" is a man-made museum, botanical garden, park/attraction in Redding, California. It was hard to figure out exactly what it was, but of course they have a web site.
I'm still guessing about "Turtle Bay", but I do know that it's a very fancy museum/recreation complex built right near the Sacramento River. I mean, right near, like... it's on both sides of the river and part of it connects with downtown Redding
And so, the "Sundial Bridge" crosses the Sacramento River at "Turtle Bay" This is an interpretation of the bridge, and it really doesn't do it justice. So, if you're rolling down Highway 5 through Redding and it's not 105 degrees (like it was the day we were there),you ought to stop and take a wlka across this bridge. (it's free)
The day I went to the "Oakland Zoo" (I think it used to be called the Knowland Park Zoo) parking was free. Let me tell you, it's way out in the hills of southeast Oakland and you have to park in the parking lot to get there because the entrance is way up in the hills and parking costs something like 6 bucks, so you should go on free parking day. Oh, you want to know if there's a train, I don't know, but I guess there is.
I went to the Oakland Zoo on my lunch break one day ( I think the whole trip from Emeryville to the Zoo and back, plus getting lunch somewhere ended up taking more than an hour, oh well) and I didn't want to pay, so I just walked in right past the ticket window. No I didn't walk in backwards.
It turns out that at the Oakland Zoo there are 2 different penny machines with 8 total coins. Me and my sneaky non-paying way snoping into the gift shop and not asking anybody about anything rooked me out of the other 4 pennies there. You know, I probably didn't have time to find the other machine anyway, I was on my lunch break after all.
Ok, I really have nothing more to say about the Okland Zoo or the pennies there. Ok, one thing: the Oakland Zoo is so far up in the hills above the city that it hardly seems like it's in Oakland at all. I mean, it's nowhere. More Info...
"California Republic" This is the image from California's State Flag, it was first raised at Sonoma by John Fremont in 1846 during an event called the "Bear Flag Revolt". It turned out, however that around the same time US ships were peacefully taking Monterey and the Port village of Yerba Buena. When the bearflaggers found out that the US was running things instead of Mexico, they gave up their revolting ways. (No, I didn't look any of this up and yes, I got this penny in a candy store in Old Sacramento.)
I can't read what this says from the scan and I don't have the penny in front of me, but I do know that it's a riverboat and that I got it when I dragged Brady through the tourist zone of Old Sacramento before we went to the Rivercats game back in August 2004.
So in San Jose, California there's a little zoo park (heck I don't know what it is) called Happy Hollow and in Happy Hollow they have a train/bus (see previous comment) with a dragon head on it called Danny the Dragon. It drives around the zoo park thingy and give tour ( I don't actually know this for a fact.) and when my Friends John and Eamon were there, there was a slightly offcenter driver try to drum up business for the ride by telling people to "come ride Danny the Dinosaur." This is what I was told anyway... One last thing, I want to thank George Yaco (super collector from the Peninsula) for this particular penny. I'll try to be less verbose in the future.
"Mercer Caverns - Murphys, California" It's a giant Limestone Cave that you can go down into on a rope. That's all I know. I'm not going to make anything up on this one. Wait, one other thing I know is that my firend Bill and his son Chris found this penny and brought it back for me. No, I don't know if they went down into the cave on a rope. here's a web site.
"This penny was pinched at Frontier Village amusement park San Jose, Calif." I remember going there as a kid, now there are few remnants left. Other people still remember it too. I got this coin on Ebay sometime in 2003.
I love baseball. I go to about 70 San Francisco Giants games every year. (It's hard to see that in print, I'm not really sure how I became the kind of fanatic that goes to that many games.) That kind of commitment doesn't leave a lot of time for other things during the Summer months. So, Les Holbrook sent me this penny and 7 others that he got at the Sacramento River Cats ballpark.
"Sacramento River Cats Baseball Club" Les Holbrook sent me this coin along with 7 others. I've never been to a River Cats game, I guess I spend too much time going to Giants games. One time, we did go to a Portland Beavers game and it was a lot of fun.
The "RC" stands for River Cats. They're the minor league (AA) baseball team in Sacramento, California. I guess there are 8 coins at the River Cats ballpark.
So, the River Cats mascot is named Dinger. I think there are a lot of baseball mascots named Dinger. The River Cats, the Visalia Oaks, and the major league Colorado Rockies, all have Dingers. (personally, I don't really like mascots.)
"Sacramento River Cats" This penny, sent to me by supercollector Les Holbrook, show the state capitol dome and a baseball splashing in the water. I'm not sure, can a ball splash into the water at the River Cats game? If you know, let me know.
This is another from the Sacramento River Cats, the minor league baseball team. It shows a river cat swiping a ball out the water. I go to a lot of baseball games in San Francisco, where I live. I always go to batting practice... What am I getting at? I don't know, this penny just reminds me of the bp experience at the Giants game.
"Sacramento River Cats" I'm running out of things to say about these coins sent to me by Les Holbrook. I guess I ought to go to a River Cats game next year, and maybe pick up some new material. They're all nice coins, I will say that.
"River Cats" as in Sacramento River Cats, a minor league baseball team. Looking at this penny, I think the designer ran out of ideas for this penny just like I have. Thanks to Les Holbrook, for all the Sacramento coins.
"Winchester Mystery House - Flashlight Tours" Sarah Winchester of the rifle manufacturing family believed that she must continue to build onto her San Jose mansion or some bad would happen to her or something... I don't know. Look it up yourself. But don't go looking for this penny there unless it's Friday the 13th. That's the only time they put this one out. Super Collector George Yaco gave me this one. Thanks George.
"Bay Model Visitor Center - Sausalito" The Bay Model is just that, a giant model of the San Francisco Bay, it's a tourist attraction, but more importantly it's a functioning scientific tool used to study the Bay. I can't say how much this penny cost, but I can say that it was the only thing I brought back from an overnight trip to an Indian Casino with Jimmy. more about the Bay Model.
I had tried to find the USS Hornet before and couldn't. I know, you're asking yourself, "How is it this guy couldn't find a freakin' aircraft carrier? What is he, an idiot?" You might be right. Anyway on my second try, driving around and around at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, I found it.
"Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad - Felton, California" This is a steam locomotive that runs in the hills somewhere near Santa Cruz, I remember going with my father when I was a kid, but I've never been back. I got this penny at the Alemant Flea Market. Of course, they have a website.
"Rosicrucian Museum and Planetarium" The Rosicrucian Museum is in San Jose, California and is mainly filled with Egyptian artifacts including a couple of mummies. It's run by some kind of religious order, that I don't know much about, but you can find out.
"Yosemite National Park" Brady and I went to Yosemite on a whim one day in Summer 2001. It was 100 degrees and the place was packed and dusty and awful. We got in a fight and I was so mad that I drove all the way home without stopping. 8 hours of driving, half and hour of Yosemite. Upon hearing this story at the penny meet in November, a sympathetic fellow gave me this penny, now I'll never forget.
"Casa de Fruta - California - Since 1908" It's a fruit stand/restaurant/roadside attraction on the way to the Pacheco Pass south of San Jose, California. When I went there, the teenage clerk shrugged her shoulders and said, "Penny machine? Uhhh?" I guess when my friend Fawn went there, they said, "Come into our secret Penny Parlor..." Thanks Fawn!
In 2001, I took some time off from work so I could devote myself full time to smashed penny collecting.... OK OK, I quit my job for no good reason! Anyway, with all the free time I was able to take a nice weekday morning drive up to Fairfield to the Budweiser Brewery there.
What can I say about "Fairfield, CA"? It's about an hour drive from my home in San Francisco and I guess you might see a horse or two there, but all I saw was the huge Budweiser sign at the brewery where I got this penny.
One thing I didn't see in Fairfield, CA were the Budweiser Clydesdales. I did see thousands of bottles of Bud getting filled up on a conveyor belt. The penny machine at the brewery is up in the gift shop/tour office and you have to walk past the bottling line to get there.
"Fairfield, CA" If you go to the Budweiser brewery, and take the tour, don't go in the morning on a weekday (like I did). I mean, who really wants to drink a beer before lunch? It'll really ruin your appetite for the Jelly Belly factory tour right down the road.
"Pea Soup Andersen's - Santa Nella, CA" This place is out on Interstate 5 about 2 hours south of San Francisco. Byron, Jimmy, and I ate breakfast there while on our way to Las Vegas. The waitress wouldn't let me have sourdough toast. She insisted that I have the wheat toast. I'm just warning you.
"Jelly Belly 25th Anniversary - 1976-2001" The Jelly Belly factory is in Fairfield, CA. They give a tour, they have a big ol' store where you can buy irregular jelly beans for cheap, they hamburger joint in case you don't want to fill up on candy, and they've been around for, ummm..., 25 years or so.
"Historic Placerville Hardware - est 1852 California" Placerville is in the Sierra foothills on Highway 50. You must stop there for lunch on your way to Lake Tahoe.
"Belltower Placerville, CA" We were passing through Placerville on our way to Jimmy's bachelor party in South Lake Tahoe. This penny ended up costing me about 200 bucks.
"Hangtown California" At one time, Placerville was called "Hangtown." On the main street, there's still a gallows with a dummy hanging from it. It's nice.
"Coloma, California" This one is hard to see, but it's an old miner panning for gold. Coloma is where gold was first discovered in California, but I got this penny at the Placerville hardware store. Go figure.
This one I got in from Les Holbrook. It's from the Jelly Belly jellybean factory in Fairfield, CA. Somebody wrote to me from there and said that they had another special machine there now, I gotta get up there to get one of those.
My friend Fawn loves roller coasters so much that she has a season pass to Great America in Santa Clara, California. This penny is from the Invertigo roller coaster. Thanks Fawn!
Brady and I got married in October 2000 (thank you thank you) and Brady's mother Karin and her husband Rick came to the wedding, of course. Before they did they visited Yosemite in order to get me a wedding gift. This is it! Thanks a lot, you guys! (I'm kidding, of course, they got us something else, and someday I'm going to write that thank you note.)
"Fairytale Town USA" is in Sacramento, CA. This one shows Humpty Dumpty, but I'm not sure what he's doing.
"Fairytale Town - Pirate" I got this one from Les Holbrook, he's an avid collector from Sacramento. Send him a message, he loves to trade!
"Fairytale Town - Sacramento" This penny is wonderfully detailed, it's just a pleasure to find coins that have really well designed engravings. I'm sure you agree.
When I went to the Harris Ranch off I5 in California, I couldn't find the machine. (no I didn't drive all the way there just for the penny, we were passing by) I don't think it's there anymore. But never fear, Rose Cranna found this one in a drawer in her house and gave it to me! Thank you, Rose!
So, I live in San Francisco and I've pretty much got all of the smashed pennies available in the City. So, sometimes I go driving around the Bay Area to get the pennies I don't have. I was planning to to the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose, but before I could go, my friend Mark and his daughter Nina sent me this one. Thanks you two!
So, Mark and Nina sent me the penny from Happy Hollow, but I knew that there were two pennies there... so I figured I still had a reason to go. So, there I was ready to go, when my friends John, Abby, and their little son Eamon brought me back this one. Sheesh, I guess I really don't have a reason to go now... except to take a ride on Danny the Dinosaur, which is really why I wanted to go in the first place.
The Lawrence Hall of Science is in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus.
"Winchester Mystery House - San Jose, CA" If you haven't been there, it's worth the trip, and not just for the three pennies they have there. find out more!
"Drive-Thru Tree - California Redwoods" My friend Jann gave me this one she got in the town of Leggett, in northern California. I'm not sure whether she drove through the tree or not. Thanks Jann!
"The Tides Wharf - Bodega Bay" Jim Cranna brought this one back to me. Bodega Bay is on the coast about an hour and half north of San Francisco. Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" was filmed there! Yow! Thanks Jim!
"Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk" Brady and I went to Santa Cruz on the way home from our weekend in Monterey. The highlight of the Boardwalk is the Giant Dipper, the old wooden rollercoaster. I got the penny in the old arcade on the north end of the boardwalk.
"Santa Cruz, CA." This is a really nice penny, although terh scene is kind of generic. It shows a sailboat on the bay with a huge sun slipping beneath the horizon.
Brady got this one for me in Old Sacramento where she was working as a juggling vampire. It shows a 49er panning for gold under a redwood tree. (How's that for the total California experience?)
This one is from the Skunk Train which runs from Fort Bragg through the coastal redwoods to Willits...and back again. We went there on vacation with Brady's Mom.
The next six pennies were loaned to me by six year old Abigail Otto of Mill Valley, California. Brady met her father at the Alliance Francaise. This penny depicting a koala in a tree is from Marine World Africa USA in Vallejo.
This one is from Train Town in Sonoma. (about an hour north of San Francisco) It's a real roadside attraction on the way into town.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose was built built by Sarah Winchester, heir to firearms fortune. She thought that if she never stopped building the house that she would never die. After 38 straight years of building, she found out she was wrong.
Both of these pennies were given to me by my good friends Rachel, Ben, Rose, and Jim Cranna. They told me that there's actually another machine there somewhere, but they couldn't find it. The mystery continues...
"Children's Fairyland USA" Children's Fairyland is a tiny amusement park on Lake Merit in Oakland. It's been there for years and recently was nicely refurbished. Brady and I want to get married in the tiny chapel.