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America wins Traveller's choice Award
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 6:22 PM

America Sweeps Traveller's Best Destination Awards 2011

Fire one, Dane Hodges and Mom snow play in Cincy

Dane Hodges finally plays America!

Dane was tasked with ranking his 2011 travels that included 29 flights, four train trips, 14 countries, and most every means of transportation one could imagine from rickshaws and elephants to Jeepneys, baht buses, bullets, to flat bottom river rafts, and some would be stunned by the results! 

Dane Hodges L Jackson Hodges C Isaac Dane Hodges R
As he pondered the list, his mother, a Filipino nationalist, expected him to choose Thailand because "he loved those elephants", but crossed her fingers that he would select the malls of Makati (Philippines) as if her love for those precious islands might be genetic. 

Dad figured it would be close between the ruins of Cambodia, the jungles of the Borneo rainforest, or the sites of Beijing, but he shocked us with selections not on the official 2011 travel list.  "I'm done" he said confidently, "and number one is's playing in the Cincinnati snowstorm (which was actually Hunter Road Park, Fairfield, Ohio), number two is Sea World (he stayed at the dolphin nursery 1.5 hrs talking to the biologist...and loves dolphins), and three is a tie between Disney World Magic Kingdom (rode Thunder Mountain 9 times in a row...thanks W & B) and the Animal Kingdom (road Mt. Everest, river safari, Serengetti, Bug World an all the rest too)".

Dane Hodges checks out the tiger
Holy smoke, the kid loved America, and Dane wasn't the only one who fell in love with the "Gem of the Ocean"... "  Come to think about it" said his bewildered mother, "My list had the Lobster with chocolate volcano cake desert at the Orlando Ale House(thanks for telling us about that place Jerry) numero doubt about it....and that Mexican place Josh likes near our hotel (Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield) was great and I also liked the those little hotdogs (Gold Star or Skyline) with Aunt Penny pretty well too". 

In fact, Mom was so sold she commented (about Cincy) "they have almost as many malls as the Philippines" and (about Orlando) "this place has more resteraunts than Manila". 

Playing with Gina's dog, Vero Beach, Fl

Mom's, Dad's, and young guys like different activities on the road.  Mom prefers malls, manicures, and fine dining, while Dad likes ancient ruins, musuems, and golf courses, but the young guy loves jungle trails and animals, and although he has visited many zoos and aquariums around the world, the Animal Kingdom and Sea World are impossible to beat.

The little American traveller has now spent a mere seven weeks of his young life in the the US mainland, and much of that was visiting family, unplanned due to an illness followed by a funeral.

Plenty girls around Dane Hodges, Orlando, Florida!
His short stops coast to coast have only included Seattle, Dallas, New York, Detroit, and Kentucky, but most of his time has been spent in SW Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton, and the state of Florida For a little boy who has ventured throughout the Pacific islands, swam in the Marianas Marine Monument, climbed through the rainforests of Borneo, haggled over change in a Malaysian market, fought spiders on a string in the Philippines provinces, seen tigers in the wild in Thailand, rode elephants in Burma, paddled down the Mekong into Laos, searched through the ruins of Cambodia, played on the Great Wall of China, and hiked through Indonesian jungles; his pictures from America are limited and family oriented!

Dane Hodges feeds dolphin Orlando, Florida

The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The largest settlements were by the English on the East Coast, starting in 1607. By the 1770s the Thirteen Colonies contained two and half million people, were prosperous, and had developed their own political and legal systems.

Dane Hodges and friends Micky and Minnie Mouse
The British government's threat to American self-government led to war in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. With major military and financial support from France, the patriots won the American Revolution. In 1789 the Constitution became the basis for the United States federal government, with war hero George   Washington as the first president. The young nation continued to struggle with the scope of central government and with European influence, creating the first political parties in the 1790s, and fighting a second war for independence in 1812.

Dane Hodges monitors lobbed snowball, Cincy

U.S. territory expanded westward across the continent, brushing aside Native Americans and Mexico, and overcoming modernizers who wanted to deepen the economy rather than expand the geography. Slavery of Africans was abolished in the North, but heavy world demand for cotton let it flourish in the Southern states. The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln calling for no more expansion of slavery triggered a crisis as eleven slave states seceded to found the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Dane Hodges explores the Animal Kingdom
The bloody American Civil War (1861–65) redefined the nation and remains the central iconic event. The South was defeated and, in the Reconstruction era, the U.S. ended slavery, extended rights to African Americans, and readmitted secessionist states with loyal governments. The national government was much stronger, and it now had the explicit duty to protect individuals. Reconstruction was never completed by the US government and left the blacks in a world of Jim Crow political, social and economic inferiority. The entire South remained poor while the North and West grew rapidly.

Grandpaws boys Dane Isaac and Jackson Hodges
Thanks to an outburst of entrepreneurship in the North and the arrival of millions of immigrant workers from Europe, the U.S. became the leading industrialized power by 1900. Disgust with corruption, waste, and traditional politics stimulated the Progressive movement, 1890s-1920s, which pushed for reform in industry and politics and put into the Constitution women's suffrage and Prohibition of alcohol (the latter repealed in 1933).

Dane Hodges is spellbound by Sea World whales
Initially neutral in World War I, the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917(oddly enough the first American shot was fired in Guam near Dane's home sinking the German destroyer Cormoran at anchor in the Marianas Islands), and funded the Allied victory. The nation refused to follow President Woodrow Wilson's leadership and never joined the League of Nations.

After a prosperous decade in the 1920s the Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the onset of the decade-long world-wide Great Depression. A political realignment expelled the Republicans from power and installed Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and his elaborate and expensive New Deal programs for relief, recovery, and reform. Roosevelt's Democratic coalition, comprising ethnics in the north, labor unions, big-city machines, intellectuals, and the white South, dominated national politics into the 1960s.

Dane's Mom picks oranges Vero Beach, Florida
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II alongside the Allies and helped defeat Nazi Germany in Europe and, with the detonation of newly-invented atomic bombs, Japan in Asia and the Pacific.

The Soviet Union and the U.S. emerged as opposing superpowers after the war and began the Cold War confronting indirectly in an arms race, the Space Race, and intervention in Europe and eastern Asia. Liberalism reflected in the civil rights movement and opposition to war in Vietnam peaked in the 1960s–70s before giving way to conservatism in the early 1980s. The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, leaving the U.S. to prosper in the booming Information Age economy that was boosted, at least in part, by information technology. International conflict and economic uncertainty heightened by 2001 with the September 11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror and the late-2000s recession

No, I'm not ready to leave yet, Dane Hodges, Disney World, Florida

Dane Hodges plays in the snow with Daddy
Dane Hodges better duck...snow fun in Cincy

Brady Moore L Dane Hodges C Dr Ashlee E. Moore R
Gina Clyde and Ron
Dylan Minney shakes down Dane Hodges
Jeanne Dane and Aunt Penny Robinson pose at WalMart

Dad and Dane Hodges L Slone and Jackson Hodges R Natural History Museum, Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dane Hodges at the 3rd hole of Grand Hyatt Cypress, Disney World, Orlando, Florida

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