The concert wasn't until 8:00, but I figured I'd make a day of it with a trip to the Wild Animal Park and a trip to Valley View Casino. First I drove up to the Wild Animal Park, and renewed my lapsed membership. I got there around 2:00 or so, so I didn't have a full day to spend, but I managed to see the new (to me) Lion Camp exhibit, which was mildly depressing, and the Heart of Africa, which had a lot of birds, both on exhibit and those just visiting. I rode their new (to me) motion ride, which was midly entertaining, but not worth the price. I took the tram last, which worked out well, as the animals were pretty active. I actually saw the lions and tiger, which I never see. I saw the antelope head-butting for the pecking order, a giraffe that climbed up a cliff and seemed confused how to get down (they're top-heavy, and don't generally climb things). Lots of babies, a few rhinos, a wild horse, and lots of others. And there was still plenty of color from the wildflowers surrounding the park, though I imagine it would have been more impressive a month ago. All in all, I had a pretty good time.
I left the park around 5:00 and headed over to Valley View Casino. I had a free buffet coupon, which was a $36 value, had I used both buffets, but it was just me. Still a good deal, though. I was concerned, because I'd been there before on a Saturday and the line was horrendous, but I hoped I'd get there early enough to get in without too much of a wait. But no luck, had to wait over 45 minutes to be seated. It was worth the wait, though; I really love the buffet. The weekend buffet features Alaskan King Crab. I don't care for crab legs, really, which was a good thing, since there was always a line for them, which blocked off a bit of the buffet. I skipped that corner and ate what I could get at more easily. Sushi, fried chicken, chinese food, dim sum, and lots of desserts, including their signature chocolate fountain. The buffet is the best thing Valley View has going for them. But I would recommend avoiding it on Saturday night.
I got there with plenty of time, but once I ate, I was a bit strapped for time. I played video poker for a few minutes, with little luck (one straight flush at deuces wild kept me going for awhile, but other than that, I couldn't hit anything). So I moved over to the tables, hoping to play a few quick hands of blackjack and hit the road. I got on a nice streak right away, and didn't want to leave, but the clock was ticking. I won back what I lost at video poker, and was starting to make a nice profit. I placed a fairly large bet, and the dealer called out "checks play," which was odd, because I wasn't betting more than I had been. I won the hand, and the dealer went to pay me, removing the red ($5) chip from the top of my bet. I thought I bet one green ($25) chip with a stack of reds, but apparently I actually grabbed a stack of greens with a red chip on top, and inadvertantly bet about $150. So that was a nice surprise; had I lost the hand, I probably wouldn't have realized what I'd done, but just been confused why I was down more than I thought. But as luck would have it, I won the hand, got a nice boost, and ended up winning a substantial amount. Given that I was the only person I saw betting substantially, I imagine my little win really hurt their Saturday night bottom-line. The blackjack game isn't very good, so I wouldn't go there just for that. They have the horrible 6:5 single deck, you should never, ever play. But the video poker isn't bad, and the table games aren't terrible, considering the comps they send out (I get a free buffet for two coupon every month; after I went there the first time, and barely gambled at all, I started getting free lunch buffet coupons). It strikes a nice balance, knowing they can't compete with the fanciest places, but not being as ghetto as, say, Casino Pauma.