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President arrives in Hawaii for Christmas vacation

By Robert Shikina

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:04 a.m. HST, Dec 23, 2010


After a 10-hour flight, President Barack Obama arrived in Honolulu under a waning moon on a humid night.

It was 74 degrees with humidity climbing past 88 percent at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam when Air Force One touched down at 11:49 p.m.

About five minutes later, Obama appeared in the doorway of the jet wearing a long-sleeve white dress shirt and khaki long-pants. He waved to the members of the press.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) followed the president down the stairs. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Gary North, 15th Wing Commander Sam Barrett, and Air Force Capt. Tyisha Owens greeted Obama and Owens presented him with a lei.

Obama got into his black SUV and the motorcade departed within 10 minutes.

The ride to his vacation home lasted 25 minutes, with the motorcade arriving in Kailua at 12:25 a.m.

Several neighbors waved as the entourage passed.

Unlike his previous arrivals in Honolulu and because of the late hour, Obama was not greeted at the base by a crowd of invited members of the public or servicemembers and their families. Only security detail, aides, reporters, and camera people were there.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono said the president called her up to ask if she was returning home and wanted a ride.

It was her first time aboard Air Force One.

"They keep it really beautiful," she said.

She didn't have a chance to talk with Obama aboard the plane and said everyone was catching up on some rest.

After getting off the plane, she spoke with Obama for a few minutes.

"He said he's going to go swimming and I said, 'don't forget shave ice,'" she said. "He's just here to relax with his family."

Akaka also said the he was trying to get rest after a tough few weeks.

Akaka, who made a statement in Washington that he will continue fighting for the Akaka Bill next year, said the president continues to support it.

He didn't speak with Obama about his bill but said for the few minutes he spoke with Obama after landing, it was "mostly family talk."

The president departed Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility in Maryland at 1:53 p.m. Hawaii time on his way to Honolulu to begin his Hawaiian vacation.

Obama will rejoin his wife and two daughters who already are staying in their beachfront vacation home in Kailua.

Obama left Washington looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

"I think the President is ... anxious to spend time where he grew up with his family and to see his sister, to see his nieces..." said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

He also planned to visit with childhood friends.

"Normally a bunch of them usually come back and it's an opportunity for the president to spend some time with them. I think that's what he's most looking forward to."

Gibbs said the president will also be working while he's here.

"I anticipate that he'll take a number of things with him and that he'll read a good
amount of stuff.  He'll have, obviously, his daily intelligence briefing as well as robably a novel or two."

While the president is in town, the Federal Aviation Administration will restrict
airspace around parts of Oahu until 11 p.m. Jan. 2, when he is expected to leave.







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