Along with the trash (mostly paper and plastic), we always find a few treasures, tidbits and oddities.

Below are samples from litter pickups in 2016. I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008.

If you want to see even MORE of them, click here for another page of photos.

December 2016

Decorative bows. Found on two different sections of the freeway.   A stuffed bunny, not too road-weary.   A bunny statue, also in pretty good shape
Door decoration (?) missing an arm   Nice jacket, missing its zip-in lining, but otherwise in good shape.   A really pretty - and really large (!) - vodka bottle. Unbroken, which was also impressive.
    Truly the strangest find ever: a 5 gallon water-cooler jug about 3/4 full, labeled with duct tape "OUR FIRST SNOWMAN" and "SAVE!!" Questions:

(1) Did they build the snowman in a bucket so that, as it melted, they would save the water?
(2) Did they de-construct the snowman, form small balls and stuff them into the bottle where the water would collect as the snowballs melted?
(3) Where did they build it? It hasn't snowed in San Jose in decades.
(4) How on earth did this bottle get onto a highway, an easy 20 yards from the road? It must have weighed close to 35 pounds.
(5) Having saved it all this time, why get rid of it now? Why not just pour the water down the drain and recycle the bottle?
(6) Why would anyone want to save a snowman in the first place, first snowman or otherwise?

A pair of men's bicycling shoes. They sell online for $110.   And do you see the orange stripe near the bottom? That's a carrot floating in the water. There was also a single lump of coal, which meant it was a one-eyed snowman!

What did we do with it? We opened the bottle, dumped the water on the bushes, put the carrot in our compost pile, and recycled the jug.

November 2016

A bath mat... good condition, just dirty   Some of the many credit, debit and gift cards we found.   It was a good month for finding gloves. One is actually a pair in good condition. We keep a bag of spare gloves in case someone comes to volunteer forgets to bring their own.
A pair of framed East Indian pictures   Glass before clean-up   Glass after clean-up. A nice sturdy glass!
In October we found a collection of 30 Gallo mini-bottles. A month later, same spot, 36 more Gallo mini-bottles.   A non-regulation soccer ball   A Makita drill. Appears to be in good condition, but who knows....
  These were a few of the items (three sets of keys and two umbrellas) that we found in a pile with some paperwork that identified the probable owner. The pile also had two hard drives, some computer cables, and some luggage locks. The paperwork included a name, address and phone number for a man in New South Wales, Australia, who had been in San Jose on business last month.

We made contact with him (it was already Monday morning in Australia when we contacted him on Sunday here in California) and he was pretty amazed that we found so much of his stuff. He'd been holding the extra umbrellas (it was raining in October, remember?) and the extra car keys for some traveling buddies, and his bag was stolen. We didn't find the bag, but this was a pretty good recovery under the circumstances.


We mailed him a package with everything we found - an early holiday present!


October 2016

$5 bill in the ivy; a lone high-heel shoe   A slope before.....   .... and after
Pocket knife; pink wallet, flashlight (working)   A bike repair kit   Plastic sign.
Size 0P (zero petite) pants   Tie-dyed t-shirt   Ray-ban sunglasses with bamboo stems
A sweater-jacket   A single in-line skate   A hand-held STOP/SLOW sign
A collection of (mostly) Gallo bottles,
and most of them are Chardonnay
  A plastic water bottle full of cigarette butts.
I guess we should be glad the butts
were not just tossed into the shrubbery.
  A Sears red plastic "Hang'n Tote"


September 2016

A full, unopened, unbroken glass bottle of beer.
[No, we did not open it and sample it.]
A nearly new re-usable cloth bag. A nice purple blouse showing no signs
of having been on the highway.
A collection of CDs A pair of cleats Dozens of playing cards with a hole in the middle
(discards from a local casino).
A small child's coin purse An Amazon gift card. Alas, it had no value left. Tire swipes? People wipe off their tires?
A picnic cooler A collection of football cards A small pocket knife with a case

We probably should not count these because
we didn't actually pick them up. They are
mannikin parts in an abandoned homeless
encampment just west of the 880/17/280
interchange. Where did the folks living in this
encampment get them? And how did they
transport them? And WHY?

Two Jack-in-the-Box toys A lone baby shoe

I always sort the recycling and turn it in to a local recycling center. Once or twice a year I provide a report. This month I started with almost four full bags (left).

About half of one bag contained aluminum cans, and two ENTIRE bags contained plastic bottles of some kind (middle).
What is not included in the bags (above center) are the plastic drink (other than water) bottles and the glass bottles.

I separated out the plastic water bottles and I counted them:

There were 248 single-use, 16-ounce, plastic water bottles.
There were 5 50-ounce plastic water bottles.
There were 13 1-gallon plastic water bottles.

I did the math. That comes to almost 4800 ounces of water, about 38 gallons, which is enough to fill a standard bathtub.

In addition (right) there were 50 plastic drink bottles (vitamin water, tea, soft drinks, vodka, etc.)

And all that was picked up on a 2-mile stretch of Highway 280.


August 2016










A pair of boots, not marked, but probably about a size 9. They will go to a charity.   A very special knit cap.   A long silky gold-colored ribbon.



The envelope addressed to Cindy had a "forgive me" card in it. I wonder if they made up or broke up and one of them tossed the card...   Several dozen of these "hot loops" were strewn along 280 between Meridian and the Menker on-ramp.   Somebody is missing his/her meds! Sertaline is an anti-depressant (ZOLOFT). Mylk is one of those flavors used in vapor pens.  





An unopened can of chicken broth. Too bad Sabine and I are vegetarians....   A doll stroller. Not big enough or sturdy enough for a real baby.....   ...but it cleaned up nicely.


The dollar bill Sabine spotted in a bush.   The $20 bill and $10 bill Pam found on Southwest Expressway.   Believe it or not, this is NOT the first coconut we've found on the freeway. We found one during a November of 2009 litter pickup.  


July 2016


Some of the coins we found and a $4 Monopoly bill   A pair of readers - that cleaned up beautifully!    
A mostly-head kitten toy   A rubber bath toy   A interactive children's cup "Can you find the 10 hidden bones?"
Award ribbons for a cookie-making competition   Some of the tools we found   A slip? A nightgown? The first we have ever found!


What a cute kitty! It is hard to see that the sweater has some tiny flowers worked into the pattern. Note: It is tricky putting a sweater on a cat!



June 2016


Binoculars - dirty but otherwise in working order.  

CDs (mostlly Christian music). Most of them were in a plastic bag, but some had fallen out. In jewel cases so undamaged.

  Fur-lined hat.  
Comic book.   Kid's drink cup.  

Some paper flowers.  
The back of the shirt.   Small jacket   Kid's dress shirt  
Dog dish   Looks like a orange? It's plastic.   Some Sharks antenna flags.  
A single high heel.   A set of tools for a motorcycle.      


May 2016

A brown fleece blanket. After washing, our dogs will love it.   First time we've ever found THIS on the freeway!   Adorable doll, a little the worse for wear, and it took a while to get all the leaves and twigs out of her hair, but some little girl will love her.
A package of "Toasted Crumb Tilapia"   Pronto Uomo faux leather motorcycle jacket ($60 on-line); size large, good condition.   A happy head, about the size of my palm.
A keyholder that was once attached to a car. Charley's going to try to get it open.   We have found entire toilets on the freeway (June 2010), but this is the first time we found just the toilet tank lid. How does one lose just the lid of a toilet tank?   A cell phone in perfect condition! Dead, of course, when we found it, but that's easy to fix. I can't get past the "Draw Your Pattern" screen. I'm hoping someone will call the phone who knows another way to reach the owner and so I can return the phone to her/him.
ADDENDUM: Over the next 12 hours after I posted what I wrote above about the cell phone, several people called. Some asked for Monique, some asking for Danielle. I told them all the same story about finding the phone and wanting to return it. I gave them MY phone number so Danielle/Monique could contact me. They all said they would let Danielle/Monique know when they saw her. Finally, Monday afternoon, Monique called me and we arranged to meet. How did she lose the phone: "Oh, it was stupid. I was having a fight with my wife and I tossed the phone out the car window!" She explained the Monique/Danielle mystery too: "We can't afford two phones, so my wife and I share this one." I just love happy endings!

A GREAT STORY: Crista found three envelopes on The Alameda on-ramp to Highway 17. She opened them, wanting to be sure they weren't important before tossing them in with the other trash. Inside were three checks from the Santa Clara County Assessor's office totaling over $20,000 and they had been mailed 10 days earlier! Crista turned them over to me and after lunch I drove them to the address on the checks (I've obscured the address and the amounts in the photo).

The man who answered the door told me someone had stolen his mailbox. Not just his mail -- the entire mailbox. Maybe the thief thought if he were caught he could claim he didn't know there was mail in the mailbox (it's a federal crime to steal mail) and he'd just be charged with stealing the mailbox. Anyway - a happy ending for this homeowner!

      A onesie with a broken zipper, so it wasn't worth washing to give to Goodwill.


April 2016

Somebody didn't want this pile of electronic ribbon cables. There were also several dozen more that were scattered nearby.   A empty tin box, probably once held cookies.   We find sponges almost every time. I save them up and give them to our favorite handyman. There are six more in our basement.
Without something to show the size, you wouldn't know these are teensy baby shoes. We didn't find the mate for either one.   What a cutie! A little toy puppy, about four inches high. I'll find an eye to glue on where one is missing.   An unopened bottle of Oil of Love, coconut-pineapple flavored body oil! Woo-hoo!
A NASCAR banner   Two scarves, both in good condition,   A receipt for a 3-day stay for two guests at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo in January. The total came to 120,940 yen which is $1,120.41 in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate.
Some of the clothing we collected. Much of it was too soiled or road damaged to save, but these pieces came clean in the wash.  

We almost always find utensils. These are the ones we found this time out.


March 2016 (no pickup)


February 2016

Linda got lucky this month and found this really filthy and slightly damages $100 bill! A total of $120.02 was found on the freeway this month.   Math flashcards   A schematic for Hesperian Industrial Park in Hayward
March update: Sadly, the bank would not accept Linda's $100 bill. She was told it had 'black mold' on it. She tried washing it very carefully, but it disintegrated when she touched it.
This plate was really, REALLY grimy when we found it (I wish I'd thought to do a "before" photo of it). It took a lot of soaking, elbow grease and a Brillo pad, but it's lovely now. Cascade pattern, about $12 a plate new.  

A cute love note, just in times for Valentine's Day.

  A blue tam with a red tassle, perhaps part of Halloween costume for a Scotsman?
A colorful sweater, undamaged and relatively clean.   Sadly, a dead hummingbird. We also found a dead pit bull.   Most of a roll of red duct tape.
Mess #1 along The Alameda off-ramp (leftovers from someone's Xmas packages) filled one entire bag.  

A huge cardboard box full of styrofoam and cardboard,
dumped at The Alameda on-ramp.

Two crews: The first crew at The Alameda (minus the photographer) with 17 bags and the second crew at Southwest Expressway (minus the photographer) with 11 bags. 13 additional bags at a third site. 41 bags total, a great day!


January 2016

Lucky Pam found a $100 bill (and a $20 and a $1 bill) on the Saratoga off-ramp!   Not-as-Lucky Sabine found a bag of Cheerios.   A funny toy - solid black body, like a ball, but soft, floppy legs.
A nice-looking pair of women's boots and....   ....a leopard print hoodie.

  Another pair of women's boots. They were probably originally the same color but one had been out in the sun too long and faded.

A teeny little purse - probably for a Barbie doll. The house key is to show the relative size.
A bottle of Sriracha sauce       A toy - when you press its belly, it squeeks and sticks out its tongue.

I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them....

Photos from 2015     Photos from 2014      Photos from 2013      Photos from 2008-2012     

For even MORE photos click here