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Stateside with Rosalea Barker: 3000 pennies

3000 pennies

by Rosalea Barker
February 21, 2012

This Presidents Day holiday weekend, I thought I’d toss Abe Lincoln down a hole and see if he kicked back one of his better-denominated colleagues—James Madison, perhaps, who appears on the $5000 bill. Actually, any US bill larger than $100 was discontinued on July 14, 1969, so the most I could hope for was not a dead president but the man noted for establishing in the fledgling United States two of civilization’s greatest blessings—lending libraries and fire departments.

Alas, Benjamin Franklin, whose visage appears on the $100 bill, did not make an appearance, but I had fun anyway, and discovered a nice little trip you might like to take when visiting the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sanmo coachlines operates an express service from many points in the Bay Area to the River Rock Casino in the Alexander Valley. The round trip costs one Alexander Hamilton ($10), and takes you past grazing cows in the fields of Marin County, and then through miles and miles of wine country. At this time of year, the vines are all dormant. The casino is situated on a hill overlooking the valley and is operated by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, under the auspices of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

When you arrive, you’re given a club card with up to 35 promotional dollars on it to get you hooked into the slot machines. I bet pennies, so my $30 promotional money got me 3000 spins if I just bet one penny on one line at a time. Which is what I mostly did, winning 30 actual dollars—promptly sent back down the black hole and lost. Still, I didn’t actually gamble any of my own money, though I did spend another $10 on lunch from their excellent buffet. And spent a good deal of time out on the patio, enjoying the view and marveling at the difference between the peace and quiet outside and the hubbub of light and sound going on inside.

The ride back to Oakland had us flanking the Bay in the late afternoon. In the photo above, you can just make out the crane being used to construct the self-anchored suspension span tower of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which is scheduled to open on Labor Day Weekend, 2013.


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