|In the motorcade, heading for the golf course|
Honolulu, HI - President Barack Obama spent Saturday, his first full day of vacation in his birthplace and childhood home, getting down to the serious business of R & R, playing golf for about five hours on the championship Kaneohe Klipper course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
It was a late start to the day: The President arrived for his sixth consecutive island vacation shortly before midnight on Friday.
Clad in a white golf shirt, hat and sunglasses, the President was all smiles as he drove past reporters in his motorcade shortly after 1:00 PM to play with Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, boyhood friend Bobby Titcomb and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson.
Kass is the Senior Advisor who plays golf most frequently with his boss. The foursome did battle until after sunset on the course that overlooks a windswept bay, a hotspot for kite surfers. They arrived at the base at 1:10 PM, and wrapped up after 6:00 PM.
President Obama arrived in Honolulu aboard Air Force One at about 11:30 PM Friday, landing after a ten-plus hour flithgt at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on a warm and breezy night with First Lady Michelle Obama, First Daughters Malia and Sasha, the President's Mother-in-law, Mrs. Marian Robinson and the two family Portuguese Water dogs, Bo and Sunny.
The vacation through Jan. 5th will be spent in a rental compound in the small town of Kailua, where the modest homes belonging to year-round residents are interspersed with lavish rental mansions on quite, manicured streets dotted with palm trees and abloom with exotic flowers. There is a heavy Secret Service presence, on land and patrolling the waters off the beach.
Aides said the vacation is an opportunity to unwind, and President Obama has no public events or official business scheduled during his Hawaiian idyll, although he does plan to consider possible reforms to the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance programs.
Vacations in years past have included outings to favorite Honolulu restaurants--Alan Wong's, Morimoto, Nobu--runs for shave ice (the island version of snow-cones) with his daughters, beach time and plenty of golf.
In addition to Kass, advisers accompanying the President on island include Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and spokesmen Josh Earnest and Eric Schultz.
President Obama spoke to reporters during a year-end news conference at the White House on Friday afternoon hours before his departure for the roughly 4,300-mile flight to Hawaii. He was quizzed about the lowest poll numbers of his time in office, and the troubled roll-out of Healthcare.gov, for which he was awarded the "Lie of the Year" prize from Politifact.com.
"The end of the year is always a good time to reflect and see what can you do better next year," President Obama said.
"That’s how I intend to approach it. I am sure that I will have even better ideas after a couple days of sleep and sun."
As their vacation gets underway, the President and Mrs. Obama are still recovering from the very busy holiday social season at the White House, where they hosted seventeen days of parties for some 13,000 guests before leaving Washington behind.
The President's past vacations have been interrupted by business: Last year, after arriving on island, he flew back to Washington to deal with a Congressional standoff over the so-called 'fiscal cliff.'
In 2011, a battle over payroll tax cuts forced the President to delay the start of the vacation; in 2010, Congressional wrangling over repeal of the ban on gays in the military and other issues delayed the trip; and in 2009, Senate deliberations over the Affordable Care Act created a delay.
After returning to his vacation home after Saturday's golf game, the President stayed in for the evening, with the White House calling a full lid.
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*Pool photo by Getty/pool