Here is a very short quiz: What word does not belong in this series? Family, Long Trail, canoeing, Frisbies, green, mountain biking, Segways, sexy, vacation, Vermont, water parks, travel news...
The eagle-eyed among you might have guessed "Frisbies" because it's misspelled. But no, my friends, the correct answer is "sexy!"
And that is precisely the word that travel writer Richard Bangs employed in the headline of his recent essay on Vermont for the Huffington Post. In fact, telescoping the over-the-top, rapturous prose in his piece, the full title is this: "Sexy Vermont: 50 Shades of Green."
(If you don't get the reference, Google 50 Shades of Grey. We'll wait.)
Back? OK. So Mr. Bangs came to Vermont and he really liked it. I mean, he really, really liked it. He liked it so much that his resulting paean to the state is almost X-rated. Here's his opening salvo:
Who would have guessed? But, as laid bare before me, Vermont is the sexiest state.
Beyond its partially trussed shoulders, and sensually curved back, beyond its juicy, succulent berries, Vermont is a place that emanates a pheromone that smells more pine than Axe. And yet it somehow manages to excite in ways unexpected.
Bangs then gets off on stuff we already knew: that Vermont's official car is not the Porsche but the Subaru. Our color is not pink but forest green. Vermont, he extols, is "more von Trapp than Marvin Gaye." We have more covered bridges than gentlemen's clubs, more hardwood than neon. Seriously?
Yes, Bangs allows, the bedcovers are more wool than silk, but — and here he makes a not-quite-logical leap to the morning after — "What could be sexier than syrup pouring on hot, buttered pancakes?"
I don't know about you, but I can think of a few things. Then again, it's possible I've been taking maple syrup, not to mention pancakes, for granted. This can happen in a longterm relationship.
But never mind breakfast. Bangs really loses his shit during a stay at the new Hotel Vermont:
On the patio deck, by the fire pit, in the radiance of twilight, hypnotized by the cocktail and its glow, it's easy to lose willpower, and surrender to Vermont, like followers of Odysseus to the island of the lotus-eaters. There is a tall woman, with cascades of dark hair, marmoreal skin, and eyes like almonds, sitting on the deck sipping a glass of organic, biodynamic Vermont wine, the liquid Franca of the state. I venture to sit in the chair adjacent. No words are spoken, but the evening shadows become our conversation, the softness of the light and the calm of the lake emotions made tangible. When the light on the lake pools to black, she departs.
I gotta hand it to him, though: Mr. Dick Bangs really does Vermont. And I hope you have noticed that I've avoided more egregious puns on his name because, you know, that would be sophomoric.
From Burlington, Bangs heads to the Northeast Kingdom, where he checks out Jay Peak and Kingdom Trails and Lake Willoughby and hikes the Long Trail and takes cute (sexy?) pictures of cows. And then, he writes, "I whisper down the road to Woodstock, passing tall, imposing silos, and copses of ithyphallic trees through a corridor of savage beauty."
Naturally, Bangs goes up, up and away in a hot-air balloon in Queechee. Looking down, what does he see? Why, another dark-haired woman, "her hair billowing around her head like crimped silk."
I could go on, but you could just go read the essay yourself right here.
According to Create TV, Bangs has been called the "father of modern adventure travel and a pioneer in travel with a purpose." He has also fathered 18 books, oodles of magazine articles and TV shows. He has traveled all over the globe, and, apparently, loves every minute of it. In fact, his has been kind of an amazing life.
Glad Mr. Bangs got some much-deserved sexytime in Vermont.
Image of Richard Bangs courtesy of Create TV.