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Don’t be breaking The Rules, yo

Rules_columbiarv 2

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! 🙂


  1. Brian Brian

    I hate sit still and don’t touch anything kind of places.

  2. dave dave

    Too funny. I love the sarcasm.

    Coincidently, Kelly and I are getting a similar vibe (albeit less than your description) from Pelican Point RV here in Half Moon Bay. Mainly, it’s the owner’s daughter who is unnecessarily bitchy; it must be exhausting to be so frumpy all the time.

    The others employees are pretty nice. But, lots of rules – most silly and seemingly arbitrary in nature.

  3. @Dave, that’s too bad. And agreed, about the amount of exhausting that must be. I was just on the phone with my mom, who is going to stop by and drop off her computer so I can fix a few things for her, and we’re having stress about the fact that during the 2 minutes she’ll be here she’ll have one of her dogs in the car with her, and The Rules specifically say that visitors can not bring pets. (I told her to just drive in fast past the office and drop off the computer, the dog will be in the car and holy crap hopefully we won’t get kicked out a day early!) 🙂 -L

  4. Fabulous review! Doesn’t sound like my kind of place though . . . rules aren’t a problem for me but the bad attitude thing is . . .

  5. That’s too bad. The last thing anyone would want is to feel like they’re intruding. Well onto the next, right?!

  6. I enjoyed this review immensely – especially the part about the AAA-discount. I can appreciate the need for rules at a campground, but when they become the focus of your checkin experience, that can really set an unfriendly tone for the stay. Sounds like the campground has had some unruly guests in the past that have maybe spoiled it for everyone else….

  7. I hope they read this posting before we get there. we made reservations for the Labor Day weekend on the basis of your previous post. I might not have if I had read this. I will say that the woman who took my call was very nice and helpful. She asked me where we had the best view from our Airstream (the front) and gave me a river front spot that she said we will be able to see the river and boats.

  8. Frank: don’t worry a bit…you’ll have a great time and it’s lovely here. Promise. 🙂

  9. love’s so refreshing to read about the good & the less than glamorous aspects of life on wheels… and rules x a billion definitely qualify (along with snarky park peeps). it’s funny we found a lot of places only offer the discount when you ask versus them mentioning it also, although we stayed a lot of places where there could have been a few more rules haha! the less spendy, the more loose the “details” (; great post!

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