Obamas' Maine weekend: biking and ocean views in Acadia National Park

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine (AP) — Cheered by a key victory in Congress and good news from the Gulf oil spill zone, a relaxed President Barack Obama began a weekend holiday Friday on a sun-dappled mountain peak overlooking the rocky Atlantic coast.

Barack Obama
Charles Dharapak

U.S. Secret Service agents stands watch as President Barack Obama eats coconut ice cream during a visit to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Bar Harbor, Maine, Friday, July 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama
Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, visit Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine, Friday, July 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Within hours of landing at the Bar Harbor airport in a smaller version of Air Force One, Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha were clambering over the granite outcrops at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. At 1,530 feet, it's the tallest peak along the East Coast, according to the National Park Service.

The family also went cycling for an hour on a secluded bike trail along a nearby lake.

Their visit was scheduled to end Sunday morning; no public events were planned.

The brief vacation quickly yielded plenty of photos of a president who knew he's had a good week.

Before leaving Washington, Obama went before TV cameras in the White House Rose Garden to bask in the latest news from the Gulf — that for the first time in 12 weeks no oil was flowing from the ruptured underwater well.

Obama, clearly relieved, called it "good news" but stressed that the cap in place was at best a temporary measure, pending the permanent cementing of the well. That is expected to happen sometime next month.

Still, the news was hugely welcome after weeks of rising public frustration that often forced Team Obama on the defensive.

It also came a day after the Senate sent him a package of new financial market rules that Obama insisted are crucial to the economic recovery and necessary to prevent a repeat of the severe financial collapse of 2008.

But in Maine, for a couple of days, Obama seemed happy to leave the politics behind and concentrate on his family.

After leaving the mountain, they stopped at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream for cones.

"I went with coconut," Obama said as he walked out of the shop. Licking his cone, he said: "This stuff is terrific. Excellent. I strongly recommend it." He shook hands and posed for photos with some German exchange students, telling them "Guten tag" or "Hello."

The area around Bar Harbor is a scenic retreat favored by the rich and famous, from Rockefellers and Vanderbilts to movie stars. Aides said the Obamas planned to spend much of their time in the 47,000-acre national park.

Their first stop was Witch Hole Pond and a bike trail cleared of users by rangers and the Secret Service. The Obamas rode in private as an ocean wind ruffled the trees, aides said.

An hour later, they were back in the motorcade of SUVs and driving a switchback road to the mountain summit. From there, the Obamas surveyed a spectacular stretch of Maine's rocky coast — Frenchman Bay and Somes Sound, bright blue in the sunlight, hugging the outlines of Mount Desert Island and partially obscured by scattered cloud banks below.

Sasha, 9, balanced on a granite boulder with her arms in the air, and Malia, 12, had her arms around her mother's back as the park superintendent pointed out features to the president. Obama shook hands with tourists in a parking lot before leaving.

"You brought the sunshine," shouted one.

"At the control center of the White House, we move the clouds around," Obama deadpanned.

Later, a boat tour of Frenchman Bay was cut short by 20 minutes when it became cloudy, fog rolled in and it began to rain. After the boat docked at the edge of Bar Harbor, the Obamas had dinner at a harborside restaurant, Stewman's. They left after about an hour. A crowd of a couple hundred well-wishers built up during the dinner and cheered from behind a yellow police tape as the first family piled into an SUV.

Obama's vacation time as president has been relatively spare. He's spent some or all of just 65 days on vacation, including at Camp David, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter the White House recognizes for his record-keeping. By contrast, George W. Bush's total after 18 months in office was 120 vacation days.

But those days have been somewhat of a nightmare to schedule for Obama. Trips with his family have been interrupted, shortened, delayed and canceled with remarkable regularity. Stays in Chicago, Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Hawaii and national parks out West were interrupted by the calls of office, and a trip to Indonesia has been postponed — twice.

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Comments

 's picture

Upon the first family's

Upon the first family's arrival here in Maine. Mike Miscue & John Bald-Archie ran up to greet him. He told one of the Secret Service members to show those two baggage handlers where the luggage was.

 's picture

socialist piece of crap

Wow. This is even easier to understand than I would have guessed. If everyone just realized that the president is a "socialist piece of crap," our problems would all be on the road to getting solved: unemployment, poverty, recession, war, mental illness, cancer, heart disease, iridium shortages, crime, undereducated high school graduates, crooked politicians, ugly architecture, animal species going extinct, acne, early hair loss, the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Or no, excuse me, maybe that's not correct. Maybe the devil's in the details. Maybe the gods are in the details. Maybe people really have to understand problems before they can start doing things that will actually fix em. That's right, isn't it?

 's picture

And...

And all of those problems you mentioned can be solved with tax cuts for the rich, hooray!

 's picture

Palin in 2012

Palin in 2012

 's picture

Welcome

It's great to see the President and his family enjoy Maine. It can't help but boost tourism. Too bad Right-Wingers like Stone and Blanchard are always looking for something bad in the world.

 's picture

Looking for something bad

What are you talking about? I was enjoying the account of the First Family's day, and, out of the blue comes the politics from the AP writer. Be careful who you accuse of "looking for something bad." I ask you... What does a comparison of Bush vacation days vs. Obama vacation days add to a story about a day in Bar Harbor?

 's picture

GOP

Let's see what Fox News is pimping from the Grand Old Party:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/17/seizing-good-week-obama-takes...

Nice..

 's picture

perspective

it clearly states that he has taken many fewer vacation days than his predecessor. Are you questioning the factual accuracy of it?

 's picture

simply sickening

It sickens me that this socialist piece of crap is defiling the beautiful State of Maine by his presence at MDI.

 's picture

Spoon Feeding The Great Unwashed

I was enjoying the story of the Obama family's great vacation day in Bar Harbor. Suddenly, the following pops up in the story:

"Obama's vacation time as president has been relatively spare. He's spent some or all of just 65 days on vacation, including at Camp David, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter the White House recognizes for his record-keeping. By contrast, George W. Bush's total after 18 months in office was 120 vacation days."

While Obama was kickin' back on MDI, the AP writer and the Lewiston Sun-Journal was hard at work, feeding the Bush Derangement Syndrome habit on yet another day.

I've had a whole 10 days off in the last 18 months. Maybe someone should write a story about that? /snark

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