De Leon Springs State Park Florida

This trip actually took place much earlier this year and I kind of forgot all about it until recently.  We continued our exploration of different Florida State Parks and this one I was really looking forward too because of a unique restaurant located there.  Plus there is a certain fountain that I wanted to see, but we will get into that a little later.

De Leon Springs State Park is about an hour and a half from our house north of Orlando.

The name may sound familiar.  Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer known for leading the first official European exploration of Florida.

Inside the park is a Pancake House called the Old Spanish Sugarmill.  But not your average restaurant.  This is a popular place and wait times can stretch past 2 hours so be sure to put your name on the list as soon as you arrive.

After we paid our small carload admission to the park, we found a parking spot and started exploring.  The day was beautiful and being outside in the sun is always a plus.

There is a portion of Spring Garden Lake that do see Manatees during the colder months of the year.  Unfortunately, during our visit, there were not around but we will be back to see them again in the future.  The park also does offer guided boat tours that I am interested in trying sometime.

Before heading behind the Old Spanish Mill I went up to put our names on the list for breakfast.  Remember how I said wait times can be pretty crazy, well I was told it could take about 1 and a half hours for our table to be available.  We were in no rush so it was time to head out back and check out some historic items that were on display.

Here lies The Fountain of Youth…well sort of.

As you can see there wasn’t much left of it, and there was certainly no youthful water available.  Back in the 1950s, this was a popular Florida roadside attraction where visitors could drink the water.  I guess it just wasn’t meant to be on this trip.

On the other side of the Mill was the Springs and there was a nice path that wound all the way around.

There was plenty of space around for visitors to set up their blankets and chairs before plunging into the Springs.

On one side of the Springs was a fairly large building with restrooms, changing areas, and a small Visitor Center.

Inside was a little museum with information on the Springs and surrounding areas.

I’m not really one to just sit down for too long and found myself walking around and just taking it all in.

Eventually, our name was called out over the loudspeakers in the park, notifying us that our table was ready.

It was perfect timing because by now we were all starving.  We headed up to the Old Spanish Mill and walked inside.

Once inside we were greeted by our server who walked us over to our table and explained how things worked.  Do you notice anything different about the tables?

They are known for their All you can eat pancakes but do have some other items if you prefer.  But I can attest that the pancakes are really good and are what we opted for.  You can also order toppings for your pancakes like chocolate chips, banana slices, blueberries, and a bunch of other things.

Not too long after we ordered our server brought over to pitchers of pancake batter.  One was their Early American style batter with unbleached white flour.  The second (is that a hidden mickey on the pitcher?) was their own house mixture with 5 fresh stoneground flours.

Now here is where things get a bit interesting.  Located right in the middle of your table is an electric griddle.  This is to ensure they are piping hot and made just as you like them.  You can make little ones, or one huge one, whatever your heart desires.  We even tried to make a Mickey-shaped one that kind of settled into more of a blob shape.

We tried both batters and they were really good, but I did prefer the Early American style the best.  With plenty of butter and maple syrup I was in heaven.  We tried to take our time and just enjoy our breakfast, and once done we had eaten probably a few too many pancakes but it was worth it.

After I paid our bill my family headed into the little gift shop they had near the check out area.  But I had something else in mind.  Back near the main entrance of the restaurant was a pressed penny machine.

I had seen it the first time we walked in but there was quite the crowd around the door so as much as it pained me I decided to wait until it cleared out.

One thing I want to point out about this machine is that the cost is a little higher than usual.  It was $0.75 per design to press plus your penny.  Thankfully I always bring extra quarters just in case.

The pennies rolled a little short but I find that is pretty common for this style of machine.  The set was nice and I enjoyed the images of the De Leon Springs State Park seal and the Old Spanish Suger Mill building.  Of course, being located in Florida there has to be designs of an Alligator and Manatee.

After our visit, we had told friends and family about this place and many of them questioned why we would want to go to a restaurant that makes us cook our own food. But that didn’t even really cross my mind, it was a unique experience and my entire family just had a really fun and memorable time.  The price of the pancakes was less than $6 a person which I think was a steal, and to this day my two daughters keep asking when we can go back.  They are definitely anxious to get a little older so they can try to work the griddle and make their own creations.

Homosassa Springs State Park Florida

It was about time for my family to get out of the house for some fresh air.  Being cooped up inside was starting to make everyone a little squirrely.  But instead of heading back to one of the theme parks, we had decided to visit another Florida State Park.  This trip we headed back over towards the Gulf to check out Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

This place kind of took me by surprise as I was thinking it would just be another State Park with nature trails we could explore, but it was so much more than that.

When we first arrived we were greeted by a huge Manatee out front of the visitor center.  Parking was free which was nice.

Inside the visitor center was a little museum with some old photographs and plenty of history about the State Park.

I feel like I’ve seen this Manatee before but wearing a different shirt?  I’ll have to look into this more at some time, or maybe I just need more sleep.

Just outside the restrooms was the first penny press machine I found and had information that there was another one somewhere.

The pennies from this first machine had images of a couple Manatees, an Alligator, a Wolf, and a Florida panther.

After we had enjoyed the visitor center we headed out back to where the Boats and Trams were located to take us further into the Park.

We lucked out and one of the tour boats was about to leave so we jumped on board and had a wonderful little adventure.  The ride took maybe 15 minutes down the river and the tour guide gave us plenty of details about the river and made sure to point out some local wildlife like turtles, cranes, and even a couple gators along the riverbank.

After the board tour docked at the far end of the river we exited near another parking lot along Fishbowl Drive.  We saw people crossing the street towards another building that lead the way towards the Wildlife Walk.

Inside was a little gift shop to one side, and a food counter on the right side called the Wildside Cafe.  We stopped for a light snack and some drinks to cool off.

Just past the Wildside Cafe was the second pressed penny machine, thankfully this time not near the restrooms.

The pennies at this machine rolled a bit short, but most of the designs came through.  The set included images of a Pather, a Manatee, an Eagle, and a Bear.  Hopefully, we wouldn’t be running into any bears or Panthers on this nature walk.

After I used the penny machine there was a desk towards the opposite side of the building where you paid a small admission price to explore the Wildlife Walk.

I was amazed that even at this time of year we were able to see a couple Manatees in the wild.  These really are amazing creatures and I never get tired of seeing them in the wild.

They definitely were proud of their Manatee residents at the park.  It was interesting to read all the information boards they had in this area with details about them.

Now it was time to explore the Wildlife Walk.  It was a nice raised wooden Boardwalk type path that wound through the park.

It was nice a wide so everyone had plenty of space and you could take your time without feeling like you were holding anyone up.

Of course, we are in Florida so there has to be the standard Alligator exhibit with some of the biggest gators I’ve ever seen up close.  Thankfully they looked well fed and were just enjoying the sunny afternoon.

This was not a zoo, so there weren’t any exotic animals on this walk but instead, it was promoting Florida local wildlife.  I found this kind of refreshing as it seemed to fit better in the state park.

Eventually, we made the entire tour around the Wildlife Walk and found ourselves back at the Tram / Boat station.  This time we opted to try the Tram which was just a trailer with seats attached to the back of a pickup truck.  It was a quick drive along the river but no tour guide this time around.  The tram was more all business just getting you back to the visitor center as quickly as possible.  But cutting its way through the tall trees and green surroundings was still a nice way to end our day.

We had a fantastic day and really enjoyed just being outside.  Florida State Parks are really becoming our favorite way to spend some quality family time together, get some exercise and of course, find a few pressed pennies every now and then.

Pressed Penny Minted Date Comparison

In past posts, I’ve gone over how Pressed Penny Collectors usually prefer to use what are known as Pre-1982 pennies.  This is due to the larger percentage of copper used in those older coins.  Starting in 1982 the United States Mint changed the metals in the penny to 97.5% zinc with only a 2.5% copper coating.

A common complaint among collectors is that when using these new pennies that thin copper coating can stretch and tear while being elongated to reveal streaks of the zinc core.

Years ago after learning more about this from fellow collectors I quickly changed over to pre-1982 pennies and of course had to go back and replace quite a few pennies in my collection.  Recently I was working on a video for Youtube and decided that I wanted to do a massive comparison between pennies with different minted dates.

First I had to figure out which pressed penny machine to use.  I wanted the design to be fairly simple but also needed to ensure that the machine (hopefully) would be around for years to come.  This is because I’m hoping to continue with this in future years to keep the comparison up to date.  Also due to many of the theme parks around Orlando being closed this did limit what machines I would have access to.  After going through my options I decided on a machine in Disney Springs at the Pin Trading store.

The design I chose was of Classic Mickey Mouse.  I don’t see Disney retiring this machine or design any time soon.  Mickey is here to stay for a long time.  Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx things.

A few weeks before my visit I had placed numerous orders with many coin merchants to get as many Brilliant Uncirculated pennies starting with 1950 all the way through 2020.  I had each penny stored in a separate little baggie with the date printed on the outside so that after I pressed each of them I would know which was which.  I think the Cast Members in the store thought I had lost my mind as I pressed the exact same design 71 times.  But they seemed happy just to have guests back in the store, and I actually kind of enjoyed being able to press some pennies again after being cooped up in our house for the last couple of months.

1950 1981 1982 2000 2020

Above is just a sampling of the pennies I pressed for this comparison.  You can click on the images to get a larger image for more detail.  At a glance, they don’t actually look too different.  But when you zoom in is where you start to see some differences.

 

The image above on the Left is a 60x zoom of the 1950 penny, and the image on the Right is the 1988 penny.  That 1988 penny clearly shows those stretch and tear marks on the right side along the dot border.

However, this is not a hard and fast rule.  Above I zoomed in on the 2020 penny and there are none of those tear marks.  The penny machines for the most part have been calibrated to try and press with pressure and die configuration that hopefully will work for a wide range of pennies to try and ensure the final product is as good as can be.  For the most part, I do find the pre-1982 pennies work the best and are what I’m sticking with for now as long as I am able to obtain them.

If you would like to check out the full comparison of all pennies from 1950 to the Present year just scroll up to the top of this page and click on “Penny Comparison” from the menu just under the main banner.  Enjoy and keep on smashing!!

2020 Disneyland COVID Shutdown Pressed Coin Set

In another attempt to put a little smile on everyone’s face I’m going to share a new set of pennies I received.  Unfortunately, it does surround a touchy subject and maybe even more sensitive to Disney fans is the Disneyland shutdown currently going on.

This set was engraved by Don Cade and I think he did a great job.  The set included the design pressed on a Penny, Nickel and Quarter.  These were not available in any pressed penny machine, but instead available to fellow pressed coin collectors and a few sets made it on eBay.  I’m not sure they are currently still available there but it never hurts to double-check.

Here is a bit of a closer look at the pressed nickel.  I thought this would make for an interesting way to remember this unique situation we have found ourselves in.

Be sure to wash your hands, try not to touch your face, and just try to stay safe!

May the Fourth 2020

It’s Star Wars Day!

That’s right there is even a day for Star Wars.  In years past there were usually special events at stores all across the country with toys or collectibles released on this day.  This year, however, is a bit different with most of us still having Social Distancing and Stay at Home requirements still in effect.  I have seen the online Disney Store was having some issues earlier today with the enormous amount of shoppers trying to collect the special release items and I’m sure they are all sold out by now.  But I did manage to place an order not too long ago for a unique item and as luck would have it, the package arrived just a short while ago.

The folks over at The Penny Depot put this design together and have it available on their website for purchase.  I follow them on Instagram and as soon as they posted the picture I headed over there to buy one for my collection.  It’s a fun design and I do wish it had the year on it just to help me remember this was during the dreaded 2020 quarantine.  But regardless it’s a great addition to my collection.

Stay safe and remember May the fourth be with you!

2020 TEC Member Coin

We all have certain things we look forward to each year, like a special birthday or holiday.  I suffer from this possibly more than most as I really enjoy most major holidays especially when it grants me an extra day off from work.  But one time of year I always look forward too is when the Spring edition of The Elongated Collectors (TEC) newsletter.  I do enjoy every issue I get, but the Spring issue is extra special as it includes the much sought after Membership coin.

This was designed by Paul Conner and Tyler Tyson both TEC members.  It was engraved by John Gusmano and rolled on nickels by Tyler Tyson.  This year’s design is a play on the classic Lucky Cent elongated.  I’m Lucky to be a 2020 TEC Member.

I really try not to bring this up too often as I don’t want to come off like an advertisement.  But this seemed like a good time of year to just review TEC and the benefits.  The membership fee is very reasonable and usually includes either a Digital Only or Hardcopy option.  Unfortunately due to our current worldwide situation only digital versions are being sent out but that should hopefully be temporary.  Plus you receive a few special elongated coins with each quarterly newsletter.  Fellow members are fantastic and always there to assist with any questions you may have.  Many sell supplies that you may need for your collection.  There is a lot of coin trading and special member meet-ups throughout the year that I would encourage you to take advantage of.

If your interested in learning more about TEC please check out the website www.tecnews.org.  You can even fill out a membership form directly on the website.  Feel free to list that you were referred by TEC Member #4237 (that’s Me!).  This won’t get you any special treatment (sorry) but TEC always likes to keep track of how all the members find out about the club.  Happy Collecting!

Penny Machines on TV – Part 2

I’ve used this blog to post about all different types of places my family has visited and covered things like Walt Disney World, Zoos, Aquariums, Roadside Attractions, how to store your collection, how to prepare for an upcoming penny pressing trip, and so many other topics.  But of all the things I’ve posted the one that gets the most interest is the one I made back in 2015 about Pennies Machines on TV.  It received so much attention that once we started our Youtube channel I converted that post into a video and updated it with a few new shows.  Want to see that video click here to check it out.

Now it’s been about 5 years and I’ve kept a list on my computer of new machines that show up or that friends have shared with me.  I figured it was about time to write up a Part 2.

CSI Miami (CBS) Season 8 Episode 20 – Backfire:
Originally aired: April 19, 2010

In this episode, there is a house fire that the CSI team must investigate to see how it was started and of course who started it.  At one point they find that a fuse in the electrical box was “jumped” with a copper penny.

One of the team recognizes it as “one of those novelty pennies” and the pressed image gives them a clue as to who may be their suspect.

American Dad (FOX) Season 13 Episode 19 – Garfield and Friends:
Originally aired: June 6, 2016

The main character Stan brings President Garfield back to life to help teach his daughter Haley about History.  At one point during the episode, they a U.S. Mint and Stan spots a Penny Press.

Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix) Season 3 Episode 10 – Karen:
Originally aired: October 19, 2018

One of the characters in the show Karen is being hunted by the villain of the show Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) and in an attempt to hide she goes to Fagan Corners Vermont (a fictional town).  This is where she lived with her Father and Brother helping to take care of their family restaurant called Penny’s Place.

As she walked into the restaurant you can see a Penny Press in the background with an out of order sign on it.  Before I realized this was a fictional town I started looking up online where this restaurant was so I could try and book a trip to visit.  But unfortunately, the town, restaurant and apparently this penny machine are all fictional.

The Bachelor (ABC) Season 24 Episode 9 – Week 9: Overnight Dates (Australia):
Originally aired: February 24, 2020
** Thanks to Justin for spotting this one and sharing it with me!

This episode has the Bachelor Peter heading to Australia where with one of his suitors they head up to the 77th floor of the SkyPoint Q1 Tower.  As they exit the elevator you can spot a coin press in the background.

Photo Credit: Pennycollector.com

I tried a few times to zoom in on the machine to confirm the designs but the quality of the video I have just didn’t allow for it.  I checked on my usual resource pennycollector.com and the above were the images they had listed for this location.

Well, that’s it for this Part 2 of Penny Machines on TV.  As always make sure to keep your eyes open for any other penny machines and be sure to leave me a comment below so I can start a new list for Part 3.  Happy collecting!

(Closed) Contest – Win a Set of 2020 Walt Disney World Pressed Coins

** Thank you to everyone that entered.  The contest has closed.  Check back for future contests.

Congrats to Jason.  Enjoy the coins and keep on Pressing!!


With all of us cooped up in Home Quarantines, I figured it was a  good time to try and do something fun.  So I’m moving up our annual Contest!!

This is a chance for you to get a complete set of the 2020 Pressed Coins that I had written about in a previous post.   Click here to read all about them and get more details on each coin, or check out our YouTube video on these coins here.

This will include all 16 coins (12 Pennies and 4 Quarters) which also includes the elusive 2020 Spaceship Earth (Epcot) penny that was only available for a short time before being removed.

As stated above this is a FREE contest.  To enter just post a comment below with what your favorite Animated Disney movie is.  Simple right!

Post as many times as you like, and be sure to spread the word.  This is always a lot of fun when there is a lot of participation. The contest will end on April 30th, 2020.  At that time I’ll randomly select a winner and will contact you for your mailing information.

If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by our Youtube channel: davidscointravels and subscribe for videos all about pressed coins including updates on new Walt Disney World pennies.  Your support there helps us offer these types of contests.

Good luck!!

**Please note this is just for entertainment purposes.  This contest is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company.

Stranger Things Pressed Penny Set

With the rise of so many streaming services like Disney+, Hulu and of course Netflix, there is a massive amount of new shows and content available to us.  I will admit that my Netflix binging has gone down with the recent release of Disney+ which just seems to be playing on our TVs 24/7.  But there were still a few shows outside of Disney that I was just drawn into and continued to watch.  The first was Game of Thrones which finished up the services in 2019.  So that only left one show that I truly enjoy, and it just so happens to be on Netflix.

Stranger Things was initially released in 2016.  I was not one of the first people to watch it and actually held off at first worried that it was being overhyped.  Friends were saying it was like Goonies (one of my favorite movies) with a Sci-fi / Horror twist.  I was definitely intrigued but decided I would just hold off for a while to see if the buzz continued.  Eventually, I had run out of other shows to watch so I figured I would give it just a couple of episodes to see if I was drawn in.  Sure enough, it was a hit with me and I quickly binged through the entire first season.

For those of you that may not be familiar with this show I’ll grab a description I found online to try and help explain a general overview of the show.

The series is a mix of investigative drama alongside supernatural elements portrayed with horror, science fiction, and childlike sensibilities. The series is based in the 1980s and infuses references to the pop culture of that decade, and also took inspiration from strange experiments that took place during the Cold War and real-world conspiracy theories involving secret government experiments.

I don’t want to give too much away in case you decide to check it out, or maybe you aren’t up to date on all the episodes.  They currently have completed 3 seasons, and the 4th is scheduled for (hopefully) later in 2020.

As I’m sure most of you are familiar with we get plenty of junk mail and spam each and every day.  I’m on so many mailing lists that some of them I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually sign up for.  But every so often I do get one that piques my interest.  I primarily use the pennycollector.com website for research when I’m visiting new cities or trying to find penny machines in my area.  Every so often I have purchased items from their online store and I guess that’s how I got on their mailing list.  In a recent newsletter, they were offering a special set of pressed pennies themed around Stranger Things.  Unfortunately, these sets they offer are usually in a limited quantity so I headed over to their website as quickly as possible to place my order.

It didn’t take too long for my pennies to arrive in the mail and I was very happy with this fun set.  There are images of the Stranger Things logo, their tag line “One Summer can change Everything”, a silhouette of the main cast on their bikes, and a nice design of the Eleven “El” who is the young girl with telepathic and psychokinetic powers.

Of course, I do have to leave some bad news here.  As I was writing this post I did double-check the pennycollector online store and this set is completely sold out.  You may be able to find a set on eBay or another reseller.  I do not work for pennycollector but do use their site very often and think it’s a great resource for collectors.  My recommendation if you are interested in having the ability to get future limited sets like this would be to visit their site and join their mailing list.  It’s free and they really don’t send out too many emails.  Hopefully, this is something they will continue to offer for popular tv shows or maybe even movies.  Maybe they will be open to some suggestions!

Cocoa Beach Pressed Pennies – Florida

Are you tired of Winter yet?

To try and help bring some sun and warmer temperatures this past week I had some family in town that really wanted to visit a Florida beach.  Not wanting to head too far from our home we decided to visit Cocoa Beach.

We arrived early enough in the morning that there were plenty of parking spots in the paid parking lot available near the Pier.  But I was told by some employees that the parking lot does fill up quickly and is not always available if you come later in the day.

As an added perk of paying for parking, we also got vouchers that allowed us access to the Pier for free.  But I’ll review that later on.

I was pretty impressed with this beach.  It appears clean and had plenty of places to set up your beach towel for a fun day.  We opted to pay for a covered canopy that gave us close access to the pier and other available activities nearby.  This is not required, but we liked the option of having the shaded canopy overhead.

Coming from New Jersey I’m used to my beaches having long boardwalks with vendors and food options, but that is not the case here at Cocoa Beach.  As you can see in the above picture after you leave the parking lot you basically are right on the beach.  There are some stores and places to eat and drink up on that long pier in the distance.

But before we headed towards the pier, near the parking lot was a place called Trader Rick’s and was kind of like a general store.

The outside of the building was decorated with all sorts of sea creatures and my favorite some Manatees.

Inside they sell all sorts of things to help with your day at the beach.  They have towels, bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, soda, snacks and tucked away in the back a Penny Pincher machine.

I always think these Penny Pincher machines are unique from the standard machines we usually find at popular attractions.  The design is a little different, and they always seem to run really quiet without the familiar clinking sound you may be used to from other hand-crank versions.

The only issue I have with this type of machine is they almost always roll short for me.  I guess I should try to adjust how I press the pennies to account for this, but on this visit, I actually ended up with some nice final pennies on my first try.

With my pennies pressed and a nice cold soda in hand, I headed back outside and started my tour of the Pier.

The pier is not very wide but does have some fun stores along the one side, and plenty of seating on the opposite side.  The stores have all different souvenirs with Cocoa Beach printed on them.

About halfway down the pier, there was a pretty large bar with some high top tables around.  They did offer food service here along with the full-service bar for all your favorite tropical mixed drinks.  I grabbed a seat along the bar and had a wonderful view of the entire beach.

Once I was done with my food and drink I headed back towards the Pelican Bar & Grill. But just before the main doors to the restaurant there was a hallway off to the left.

This had access to the restrooms and a couple employee-only areas, but of course, this is also the perfect place to have another penny machine.

This machine was in a pretty bad location with people coming and going from all different directions.  It was a little hard to use and even harder to try and take pictures of the machine.

After a few attempts to use the machine, I was able to press a full set and the designs came out really nicely.  I do like that they are labeled with Cocoa Beach on them which always helps make them special in my collection so I can remember my visit and where they came from.

The Pelican Bar and Grill is located about halfway down the pier.  But as you can see from the picture above there is plenty more pier beyond that and something else right at the very end.

This second half of the pier is only available with a small paid admission fee.  Out here you can do some fishing right off the elevated pier.  As I mentioned at the beginning with my paid parking I was given a voucher that gave me access to this part of the pier for free.

All the way at the end of the pier is the Rikki Tiki Tavern.  It’s interesting to be out there as you are way out in the water.

There was live music playing out here, and plenty of seating but it was a very popular place and I had to wander around for quite a while before a seat opened up.

The bar also gave a great view of the beach in both directions and really made for a nice place to enjoy some drinks and wonderful sea air that always just seems to make me feel like I’m on vacation.

After a long day of fun on the beach, in the water, and on the pier it was eventually time to head home.  I had a couple new sets of pressed pennies to catalog once I got home, but for now, the slight sunburn I had and relaxing disposition was just what I needed.  The Central Florida Theme Parks are always near and dear to my heart, but sometimes it’s nice to just get away and put your feet in the sand.