Well, a lot of laundry... but that's not all! I decided early on that it would be a lot of fun to collect all 50 of the State Quarters that the U.S. Mint has been releasing in recent years. I sent away for a Whitman Coin Collecting Folder, figuring that I should keep them organized.
What I didn't realize was that this folder required both versions of each coin - one from the Denver mint (D) and one from the Philadelphia mint (P). Needless to say, it was relatively easy to find (P) coins in Vermont, but a bit harder to find (D) coins that had worked their way across the country from Denver.
I was not above filling in gaps with coins I found while traveling out West, and I would say that by the time I left Vermont in 2012 I had about 90% of this folder filled up. Of course, the last 10% was extremely difficult to find! Any time I ever came across any quarters I would double check them - at the arcade, in a shop, doing laundry - anywhere.
I made a Google Doc spreadsheet listing the remaining quarters I needed, and I set up "coin agents" around the country to help me find the missing coins. The last one I needed was an elusive 2009 (D) Guam quarter. I finally found it this April in Greg Means's coin jar in his apartment, in Portland Oregon. My collection is now complete!
Ain't that beautiful??? Here are some close-ups of the individual pages (click to enlarge):
My wife Claire and I filled in the empty slots at end with bicentennial "drummer boy" quarters and one quarter each from our birth years. Ironically, my pinball machine no longer accepts quarters, because it's set to Free Play (it's in our living room). But now my wife and I have coin collecting fever! We bought a National Park coin folder, and are dutifully filling it up by obsessively checking every quarter that crosses our path. This one goes all the way through 2021, so I guess we'll be at it for a while!