The PI: Do Drop In for Local Color

Remember the old Charlie Daniels song, “Uneasy Rider”? A longhair on a road trip to Los Angeles has a flat tire and chances into a redneck bar called the “Dew Drop Inn.” Of course, he’d tucked his hair up under his hat, but you’ll recall that big fella with the green teeth made him tip his hat to a lady and suddenly he was about to die. In a stroke of brilliance, he kicks green teeth in the knee and claims that his groaning victim is an FBI agent who has been infiltrating the local Ku Klux Klan. He narrowly escapes with his hippie backsides intact, on to Omaha.

Well, I’ve always thought that incident really took place at the Parshall Inn, the night light and night life of Parshall. The town, which lies at the confluence of the Colorado and Williams Fork rivers, was dedicated in 1907 by Alonzo Polhamus on 60 acres he bought from Ralph Parshall. Today the unincorporated town consists of about 80 hardy souls, the majority of whom occasionally do drop into the newly gentrified Parshall Inn for a great burger or other hearty fare pleasantly served. The passing tourist family would safely enjoy its meal, delighting in the brief association with the “local color.” Family members might text message their friends as to their whereabouts and discretely snap a phone picture of the rustic cowboy ambiance.

With good food, good music and good service, the Parshall Inn has become a watering hole for locals and the occasional tourist.

It wasn’t always that way, the cowboys weren’t always so rustic. In the late 1960s, a line of communities along U.S. Highway 40, including Parshall, were significantly involved in the subsidence of the hippie movement. My wife had never been in the Parshall Inn, or the PI, as it’s locally known, and with only a couple of notable exceptions, neither had I. A few years ago my wife decided we should change that and off we went. Nestled on the bar stool next to me, she ordered her customary beverage, as always, with a lime. The bartender stared back at her, seemingly a bit vexed, before declaring, “This is Parshall, we ain’t got no limes.”

“Alrightee then,” my wife replied, “I guess I’ll have it as nature intended, thank you.”

All that’s changed now. The new owners, Jeannie and Jim Kemp, are responsible for the gentrification of the Parshall Inn, a feat thought improbable just a few years ago. It’s clean, well-lit, and with good food, good music and good service, and is non-smoking as well, more than enough to draw us out a few weeks ago to hear one of our favorite local bands, Third Time Lucky. Of course, when you put “gentrification” and “Parshall” in the same sentence, it’d be best to understand there’s only so much two dedicated, hard-working people can do. It’s still Grand County.

We’d just sat down and George, the obligatory Obnoxious Drunk, decided that he needed to hug everybody in the bar and belch in their ear, a normal inebriate bonding activity. Well, darned if sitting at the bar wasn’t a semi-gorgeous Intoxicated Brunette named Cynthia, who pitched a fit at the treatment and challenged George out into the parking lot. George got a cross-wise grin, pulled his best Mel Gibson and bellowed a shocking slur at her gender. Bobby Jo, Cynthia’s mostly besotted Best Blonde Pal, swiveled around on her barstool like an Exorcist outtake. After she came to rest, the two girls nodded briefly and the three of them filed out the door to settle the matter like men. George strutted out like a chicken, proud to be invited to lunch at Colonel Sanders’ house.

The windows facing the parking lot at the PI are high on the wall, providing no view of the parking lot when you’re seated. Shortly after the trio left, a lanky guy in Carhartts stood up and reported, “Whoowee! George’s down, looks like they’re wailing the tar out of him.” For the next few minutes folks would occasionally stand up and peer out the window. They’d give a sly grin and a nod, or they’d frown disapprovingly, depending on their stand on belching rights. A matronly type yelled out, “Five bucks on Cindy!” but everyone knew it was Cynthia’s mom and nobody took her up on it.

George, the obligatory Obnoxious Drunk, crawled beneath a pickup while Cynthia and Bobby Jo circled the truck.

The band broke after its first set and a woman who should have been wearing a longer top stood up and watched out the window for a while. Finally she said, “Looks like he’s crawled under a pickup. Must be trying to wait ‘em out.” Sure enough, the female of the species were circling the truck like hungry hyenas in the Serengeti.

Matters seem to have been resolved in the parking lot and a much-subdued and seriously disheveled George snuck in several minutes after the Amazons.

The more things change…

(The names in this slice of life are changed, but you know who you are.)

If You Go

146 First Avenue Parshall, Colo. 80468 970-725-3215

Jon de Vos, who lives near Fraser, took a one-month job at a ski lodge in Hideaway Park (now Winter Park), after graduating from Arizona State University in 1973. He intended to head for law school in the fall semester. That was 33 years ago. “Colorado saved my life,” he says.

From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.