We had been talking about it for a long time, and eventually our thoughts came to fruition at Spirit Lake Casino on Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. The price: six dollars. The experience: worth every penny (and then some). The two competitors had an unspoken but well understood wager - whoever walked away with the most food in their belly without upchucking would be crowned the king of the cafeteria.
For my first plate I loaded up two pounds of steak and shrimp (the specialties for the night) along with some token greenery on the side. Clancy stocked up on a more dainty portion of fried foods and steak for his first helping. As I loaded my second plate, filled with primarily with meatballs and breads, I took note of our differing strategies. Clancy preferred to dish up modest portions while I tended to hamster-pile a great deal of food onto one dish - a survival instinct perhaps? For his second plate, Clancy selected a vegetable assortment featuring a salad - a rookie mistake (though I didn‘t mention this during the competition). By the time I was working on my sixth plate, Clancy was on his fourth. While I sat with a hefty pile of shrimp and my fourth desert in front of me, Clancy looked longingly at his lonely plate that consisted solely of one egg roll and seven grapes. Knowing the victor had already been decided, I stared him down, like a Bengal Tiger eyeing his prey. I could have stopped the massacre at that moment, but I wasn’t playing simply to win, I had to beat the spread; like running up the score in a rival college football game - glory was at stake here. By the time that the crumbs had settled, we both walked away losers. With extreme discomfort and indigestion on the horizon, we had just enough mobility to waddle out to the casino floor where I spent half an hour on the blackjack table and lost eight dollars - a personal best for me given that my only other casino experience resulted in me parting with 14 dollars.
In the morning, we woke up late, hungover from the previous night’s food binge. Much to our dismay, we arrived just ten minutes before the waffle buffet closed. In a mad dash, we filled multiple plates with Belgian waffles, fruit, French toast, and shortbreads. The scene must have looked something like a $5,000 shopping spree at the Eagle Point Wally-world. We were so focused on snapping up food before the wait staff did that we hardly took note who was devouring greater portions. In the end it hardly mattered - we both ate enough to put off our next meal until 4:30 PM.
Before leaving the Casino, we decided to take a glance at the pool. It just happened to feature a waterslide that we felt compelled to test drive (see picture). Afterwards, we were still too stuffed to start pedaling so we lingered in the hot tub until nearly 2 PM. I’m certain I’ve had this much fun before, but I sure can’t remember when.