Cattle Truck Tours in Hot Water Again

(Ouray) A local company offering authentic cattle truck tours of the Uncompahgre Valley has been called onto the carpet again this year due to what civic leaders are calling bad taste.

     A throng of detractors from both the public and private sector say Melvin’s Cattle Tours Ltd. has breached the thin line between what is entertaining and what is deplorable.

     “This is the proto-type of bad tourism,” said a chamber source. “It’s not in keeping with the image that we are trying so very hard to project for the summer season.”

     The unconfirmed comments went on to suggest that the operation, owned by Melvin Toole of Elk Meadows, creates an extremely  bad precedence, ridicules the cattle industry and demeans innocent tourists out for some good clean fun. A mounting contingent of critics say hauling tourists around the mountains inside a cattle truck is unsavory enough on its own, and when coupled with the poor driving and bad judgment, common to Toole’s derelict staff of reckless drivers, it becomes downright dangerous.

     Stopping short of banning what Toole calls “See The Mountains Like the Cows See Them”, the concerned citizens say they hope the proprietor will quit his bovine adventures voluntarily, adopting a more civilized method of making a living.

     “Maybe he could arrange jeep tours, offer sky diving or open an art gallery,” said one county commissar.

     Following a plethora of 2004 complaints relating to the condition of the cattle trucks and the bullying of passengers by drivers, the city has considered pulling Toole’s license. Last year hordes of angry visitors, feeling gouged by the $150 hourly fee, formed a constant parade through both the chamber and the mayor’s office.

     When contacted at what he calls his Natty Dread Love Shack, nothing more than a corrugated bindle shift sans pinchbeck office, Toole said he didn’t care if the authorities pulled his license since he never really wanted the thing in the first place.

     “I can just get me another one of those licenses up in Silverton for about ten bucks,” he blasted. “Now there’s a town that’s commerce friendly. This is America!” he raved on, “or at least it used to be. I will not be intimidated by this bureaucratic schlock, no sireeee. When the tourists hit I’ll be a-waitin’. Hell, I might even arrange to pick some of them up when they arrive at the airport.”

– Fred Zeppelin

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