Rock Food - Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum
This museum -- a beloved Arizona institution -- was abruptly closed on May 1, 2011, on the orders of Gov. Jan Brewer. She wanted to replace it with her own pet project, the "Arizona Centennial Museum." When that idea failed, the concept was changed to the "Arizona Experience Museum." That museum was never built either, and as of 2014 the building remains shuttered.
This rockhound's paradise has several displays of note: a moon rock from Apollo 11, a display of "frozen thunderbolts" made when lightning struck sand, a meteorite, a fluorescent mineral room. Outside are photo-op tributes to open pit mining business (which is big in Arizona) with a 13-foot-tall dump truck tire and a giant earthmover bucket -- although we've seen bigger. A wheelbarrow filled with rocks is labeled "Free rocks. Three per visitor, please," and receives a steady stream of acolytes, each diligently searching the pile and politely leaving with no more than the maximum.
But what drew us here was Display Case #95, "Today's Special."
It recreates a breakfast, lunch, and dinner set out on a table -- made entirely of rocks that look like food. The banana is actually limestone, the coffee is garnet sand, the steak is quartz jasper, the peas are something called gastropod opercula -- you get the idea.
The menu is constantly rotated because the Museum has so many specimens, and the display is expanded every holiday season to become the "Banquet of Rocks."