Riley’s North – Lake Placid, NY

Being originally from Canada the winter Olympics were always more my cup of tea, but I have definitely been enjoying the 2016 Rio games.  With the Rio Olympics recently completed and my family driving through Upstate New York we jumped at the change to check out Lake Placid.  Home of the 1932 and more recently the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Lake Placid 01

After arriving in Lake Placid we found a nice parking spot right near the lake and decided to walk around Main Street and take in the Olympic Spirit still alive and well.

Lake Placid 05

Of course the most memorable event during the 1980 Olympics was the Miracle on Ice USA Men’s Team miraculous win over Russia.  I was only a few years old when it actually happened but in the years since have always been completely overwhelmed with the story behind that USA team and what they accomplished.

Lake Placid 04

After visiting some of the Olympic facilities and souvenir shops we were getting hungry and had lunch at a quaint little place called the Black Bear Restaurant.  It overlooked the Lake which a breathtaking view and the food was really good.  The interior of this place was cute with lots of reference to black bears which Hanna really got a kick out of.

Lake Placid 03

On our way back to our car we checked out on last gift shop called Riley’s.  We had visited another of their locations in Lake George years ago and found some great gifts to bring back.

Lake Placid Rileys Store

As soon as I walked inside the front door I was greeted by the familiar sound of a penny machine being cranked.  Just inside was a nice four design hand crank machine with some great designs.

Lake Placid Machine 01

There were a few people using it ahead of me but once my turn came I rolled my designs and checked out the finished products.

Rileys of Lake Placid Blog

The designs had images of the 1980 Men’s Hockey Miracle on Ice (Really cool), Skiing Whiteface Mountain, a Moose, and a Figure Skater.  With these pennies collected I tried to remember if I had any other Olympic coins and couldn’t remember any.  My fingers are crossed that somewhere someone is working on a special set to commemorate the 2016 games.

Once we were back in our card with Lake Placid faded behind us we were off to our next stop in the Adirondack’s.  Stay tuned to see where we end up next.


Samoa Snacks – Polynesian Village Resort WDW

On our various trips to Walt Disney World we always make sure we book a reservation to eat at O’Hana in the Polynesian Village Resort.  It is just one of our all time favorite places to eat, with fantastic entertainment, wonderful food and we have (knock on wood) always had excellent service.  On a sad side note we have yet to actually stay at the Polynesian and end up having to settle for staying at another resort and making the trek over just for dinner.  But it’s absolutely worth it to us.

Poly Village Resort

Being the obsessed pressed coin collector that I am I have acquired the 3 machines located at this resort many years ago.  Sadly these designs have rarely changed.  However I’m sure yo can guess that since I’m writing and entry about this place that must not be the case any longer and you would be absolutely correct.

Poly Samoa Snacks

On the second floor (same floor you are already on if you take the monorail over) which also is where O’Hana is located there is a nice little place called Samoa Snacks.  As the name implies this is a convenience store of sorts that has drinks, candy, snacks, and since it’s Disney some themed merchandise.  Just outside this little store is one of the machines that presses quarters.  For years this machine has only had 1 design to be pressed on a quarter but no longer.

Polynesian Quarters 2016

This machine has been upgraded to now have 3 separate designs still all pressed on quarters.  The machine does require $1.25 in quarters for each design.  These images are very similar to existing ones, but have been enhanced in detail and two of them now have a dotted border.  All of these are Lilo & Stitch themed and also have the Polynesian Village Resort Logo included.

Of course knowing there were new coins available I had to pick these up as soon as possible, but if the previous machines are any indication here these are probably going to stick around for a while.  But I never say never so make sure to pick these up just on your next trip over to the Poly, and since you’re there check out O’Hana you won’t be disappointed.

Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park – Pottersville, NY

Our next stop on our Upstate New York tour was thanks to  We were actually in the area to see a miniature train museum (I have loves these since I was a kid) but when we got there the train museum didn’t open for a few hours.  So I used my trusty penny finder app on my phone and as luck would have it only a few miles away was the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park in Pottersville, NY.

Natural Stone Bridge 01

I’m not a geologist at all but this place was still pretty cool to check out.  We didn’t venture too far into the caves but they had a lot of interesting information available.

Natural Stone Bridge 03

Before we left we checked out the Rock Shop because I was hoping the pressed coin machines were there and not deep in one of the caves.  Thankfully my claustrophobia wouldn’t need to be tested this day.

NY - Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park 02

This shop actually had two coin machines.  The first was a four design hand crank penny machine.

Natural Stone Bridge Pennies

The images included Brave Cave Explorers, two of the images were of cavemen but slightly different versions, and the four image had Adventure Tour Explore your World.  As you can see from the image above the machine rolled the pennies long and each came out with a bit of a tail, but the images weren’t distorted as all.

NY - Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park 01

The second machine only had one design but was a rare find in our hobby.  This machine pressed dimes.  The cost was $0.75 plus your dime for a total of $0.85.  The machine is set up with a fancy cabinet that advertised Dime “n” Mine which I thought was pretty cool.

Natural Stone Bridge Dime

The image on the dime was another caveman which as you can probably tell was a theme here.  I stored the new coins away and hear the call of the model railroad.  I was glad to have found this place and had a great time here.  Be sure to get the Penny Finder App for your iPhone’s, I think it’s about $2 but comes in handy when you need to know if there are penny machines lurking nearby.  Happy collecting!!

Impressions of Saratoga – Saratoga Springs, NY

For the last few years my family has been going back to our Native homeland Canada the first weekend in August for a family reunion.  After the family festivities we have been taking little side trips on our way back down to Jersey and this year we decided to check out upstate New York.  One of our stops was in Historic Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga Springs NY 02

Obviously this quaint town is known for horse racing which is event everywhere you go. The main street downtown is really great to just park nearby and take a nice leisurely walk checking out the little shops along the way.

Saratoga Springs NY 01

One of those great little shops was called Impressions of Saratoga.  This had tons of great souvenirs and the people working there were very friendly.  Just inside the front door near the checkout area was the only pressed penny machine in town (what are the odds we would stop into this place?!?!).

NY - Impressions of Saratoga

I have used this type of machine a few times in the past and it can be a little confusing if you are used to the other more standard style machines.  Most of the ones like this always have a hand written sign from the merchant trying to clearly explain how it works as I’m sure they get a lot of refund requests because the customer didn’t read what to do.  Unlike most other machines there is only 1 (ONE) button and you press it first to highlight the little light beside whichever design you are interested in pressing.  Once the selection is made you pop in your change and the machine does the rest.  My assumption is people just put in their money and try pressing the light beside their design which does absolutely nothing and they end up with whatever design the previous user had requested.  In any case it’s not difficult just different so please take this “life tip” and read the darn instructions before using it.

Impressions of Saratoga

The first image says Lucky Penny and has a Jockey and Horse in mid-race, next is the Columbian Spring, and lastly the Battlefield Monument.  With my new pennies safely stored away we picked up a plush horse for Hanna and headed outside.  It was a beautiful day and I wish we had more time schedule in Saratoga Springs it really was great to check out.  But we had other places to visit and not a lot of time.  Check back soon to see where we headed next.

Union Station – Washington, DC

Recently my father has been commuting from New Jersey to Washington, DC for work.  Instead of driving the whole time he’s been taking the train at the beginning of the week and coming home at the end for the weekends.  After his first week when he came home he was telling us all about it and mentioned how amazed he was by Union Station in DC.

Union Station DC 01

A couple of years ago I had visited DC with my family for a long weekend vacation and we walked by Union Station but didn’t have time to go instead and look around.  My dad took some pictures and it really is a cool looking building.

Union Station DC 02

Then suddenly one day something struck me.  I remembered that the reason I had initially wanted to go inside Union Station was because they had some penny machines.  I quickly logged on to and double checked to see if the machines were still available, and wouldn’t you know it they were still there.  I sent my dad off with some quarters and pennies and asked if he could stop by the Lower Level near the food court and press me a set.  Thankfully my dad doesn’t mind indulging me in my obsession and went out of his way to get them for me.

Union Station DC Machine 01

Both machines are located near each other but are in the food court area.  My dad said both machines were working fine, but that they were among some of the tables with people eating close by which made them a little awkward to use.

Union Station DC 01 Pennies

The four pennies at this first machine had images of the Union Station Building, The Washington Nationals MLB Baseball team Logo, The Capitol Building, and George Washington.  The second machine was located in a very similar location among the food court tables.  This one wasn’t as busy but I would assume it gets crazy at certain times of the day.

Union Station DC Machine 02

All the pennies rolled out nicely and the images were all Washington DC themed which was cool and were going to fill in the missing spots of my collection from a few years back.

Union Station DC 02 Pennies

The coins at this location had images of some famous landmarks nearby.  The White House, Martin Luther King Jr National Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.  I thanked my dad for taking the time to get these for me.  It’s always fun to try to convince your family and friends to press some coins.  I’ve had some tell me it’s only for kids and they won’t do it (but I secretly think they enjoy it).  But most of the time they don’t mind and I always try to send them with everything they need to make it as easy as possible.

Smithsonian National Zoological Park – Washington, DC

As with a lot of my day trips I had to pass through Washington DC for a work thing and had the afternoon off before heading home so I jumped at the chance to get some new pennies.  A couple of years ago we took our first daughter Hanna on a long weekend trip to DC and visited all the museums and she especially loved the zoo which you can read about here.  I’m always checking online to see if and when new machines become available to try to keep my collection as up to date as possible, and wouldn’t you know it the zoo had all brand new machines.

Washington DC Zoo 01

One fantastic thing about the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (whew!) is that it’s absolutely free.  There are some places to donate to the zoo and help the animals which I would absolutely recommend everyone do.  This place is pretty big and I will give advanced notice part of it is along the side of a fairly steep hill / mountain.  I would probably recommend starting at the bottom when you first get there so that once you are heading home you just have to coast down the hill.  In any case I did not take my own advice and started at the back near the visitors center which was where I made my first stop.

Washington DC Zoo 02

Inside the visitors center is one of the gift shops, a set of restrooms and some other little exhibits to check out.  My reason for stopping by is the penny machine located right outside the restrooms.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 01

As you can see this is another one of those new fancy super multi mega design machines.  This one offers 2 designs for $1 or all 8 for $3.  But, it was out-of-order so I came back empty-handed with this one.  To help cheer myself up I grabbed an ice cream cone which always helps.  I visited various animal exhibits and next stopped at the Panda Shop.

Washington DC Zoo 03

As you can see in the above image the penny machine is located right outside the main door of this store.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 02

Another thing I will say about these machines is that they were all decorated really nicely.  I’m always a fan of nice cabinet images, the plain ones just never seem as exciting.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 02 Blog

This machine was back to the standard four designs and had images of a Giant Panda with Baby, Giant Panda lying on a rock, a Mountain Lion and a Seal.  Nearby was the Bus Stop area which is pretty self-explanatory.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 03

Each of these four design machines are $0.50 plus your penny.  I always come prepared but it was nice to see change machines available.  Please note that this Bus Stop is actually where all the school buses and tour buses drop off all their riders.  It took me a little while to use this machine because it was just swarmed by school kids from a bout 4 or 5 buses all at once.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 03 Blog

However the kids were very nice and let me by to use the machine without much fuss.  They were interested in watching me use the machine a little too closely (I like my personal space) but after I left I saw them all trying to find loose change for the machine.  The next four designs were of a Giant Panda eating, a Komodo Dragon, a Mountain Lion, and another Giant Panda walking.  Since I was in the Panda area and this zoo is known for their Panda’s that is what I checked out next.  Another FYI this area of the zoo is always PACKED with visitors.  It is not uncommon for the zoo to set up a queue for entering this area so be prepared to wait.

Washington DC Zoo 04

This trip however the Panda’s were actually being kept inside.  I’m not sure if it was due to the heat or not but this did help keep this area a little calmer.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 04

Down near the outside viewing area is nice coverage section with interactive displays and is a pleasant place to take a break from the sun.  This was also where the next penny machine.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 04 Blog

Sick of Pandas yet?  How can you possibly be they are so cute and watching them eat bamboo is fascinating to me for some reason.  Always, these pennies had the Elephant Trails, a Panda lying on a rock, a Spotted Eagle Ray, and an Elephant.

Washington DC Zoo 06

Once inside I finally found one but as you can see from the picture above he was not up to entertaining his guests.  Oh well maybe next time.  I made good time through the panda exhibit and as I left the crowd was really started to fill up (probably due to all the students, I really miss field trips).  Now I was at the top of the mountain and was making my way down trying not to think about the climb back up I would have later on. One of the first buildings I came to was the Great Ape House.

Washington DC Zoo 09

If you like primates this is the place for you.  There are some outside but again due to the heat most were inside.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 05

About half way through the Great Ape House I took a break from monkey watching to use the machine located inside.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 05 Blog

You may have guess that these coins would be themed after the primates and you would be absolutely correct.  The designs are as follows a Gorilla’s Face, an Orangutan on a vine, a Panda Face and one of my favorites a Ring-Tail Lemur.  I finished visiting with the monkeys and headed outside only to go immediately into the next building which was the Reptile House.

Washington DC Zoo 10

Here’s a little disclaimer I’m not a fan of snakes and Reptile houses are usually filled with them.  I do my best to confront my fears but I’m still convinced they will escape from their exhibits.  Sucking it up and made a mad dash inside, used the machine and got the heck out of there.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 06

Unfortunately due to this I can’t really tell you what other animals are inside, but I will say the machine worked perfectly for the few moments I was there.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 06 Blog

Next four pennies designs were reptile themed except for another panda.  The images included the Baby Panda, an Alligator, a Komodo Dragon, and a Turtle (Tortoise?).  I finished walking down the mountain and make a quick stop in the Mane Grill (Lion exit was near by get it, haha).  After a short snack I found the last penny machine near an Info Booth and a wall of vending machines.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 07

Even though I always had eaten some ice cream the Dippin’ Dots machine beside the penny machine was calling my name so I pressed the coins as quick as I could.

Washington DC Zoo Machine 07 Blog

These last four pennies had a Cobra, an Elephant, and Panda lying down, and lastly the famous Panda Bao Bao.  With Dippin’ Dots in hand I started my slow climb up the mountain and headed towards the exit where my car was located.  It had been a fun day visiting with the animals, doing some cardio and getting a whole bunch of new pennies.  Even though the big fancy 8 design machine was out-of-order I’ll try sending a letter to the zoo in an attempt to get a set.  This is a great zoo with some really unique exhibits I haven’t seen anywhere else.  Be sure to check it out if you’re in the Nations Capital but don’t forget to bring your walking shoes.