As I said, we're at Columbia Riverfront RV Park for a few days this week. We've stayed here once before and it's a pretty park with nice views of the river from the waterfront spots, lots of nice amenties, clean, well taken care of, but it's got a weird vibe. The first time we were here it felt the same amount of "off", but sometimes you just chalk it up to mood or whatever was going on that day when you checked in. But nope. It's the same the second time around. We were trying to figure it out yesterday after we realized we both had the same "kinda yucky" feeling about this place, even though in every other way it's super nice.
This park is definitely one of the "amenity-rich" parks. Full hookups, laundry, nice little store, good DVD loaner library, propane, cable tv, Wi-Fi, manicured and landscaped grounds, and I haven't been to them but I'm sure the showers are sparkly and clean. You exit the freeway and drive several miles toward the Columbia River through some pretty farmland to get here. It's about 20 miles to Portland, and there's a brand new big WalMart at the same exit from I-5 (if that's of interest to you).
But the thing is that when you arrive and check in, the main focus is The Rules. Don't extend any part of your RV over the grass. You don't have dogs, do you? We have a very strict leash law. No fires. No noise, and you'd better have a threaded locking sewer fitting. Any visitors? We have more rules for them. We have Wi-Fi but don't exceed the download limit or we'll shut you down. Trash has to be tied securely in plastic bags… etc. etc.
Of course there are always rules, but it seems that when you show up at a "vacation destination" the focus might better be on "Look how great our park is! You're gonna love it here! We have a life-sized chess set out there on the lawn, and a pool, and you can watch the ships go by from your picnic table. Oh and here's the list of rules. Please don't break 'em." Luckily, we're pretty low maintenance and mainly we follow The Rules by default. There's nothing else really negative…it's just that the overall feeling you start with here could be better.
**(Also, when you come to a AAA- or GoodSam-endorsed park, usually the staff asks you if you are a member — for the slight discount you get. Here, the AAA and GoodSam logos are all over the place, and as the woman at the front desk was ringing me up I asked if they offered a AAA discount, and she said all deadpan and a little grumpily, "We do if you ask us." Doesn't that seem a little odd and sneaky-like? I dunno, it made it feel adversarial in some strange way. I'm checking into an RV Park, not haggling for a deal on a car!)
The staff is friendly enough (if a little cold), but I have to say it does feel like you're interrupting something they'd rather be doing when you call to make a reservation (and when you arrive at the park, for that matter). Overall, it's a bit like if you were visiting your step-father's aunt who doesn't like kids in her formal living room where everything is white and the shelves are full of figurines made of glass threads and eggshells that she spent her entire life collecting and she's certain that any minute you are gonna fuck up and ruin something she loves so for heaven's sake just sit still and don't touch anything.
But it's beautiful here and we have a great view, and hey, cool, another big ship! 🙂