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First family wraps up packed Maine holiday

BAR HARBOR, Maine  — President Barack Obama and the first family said goodbye to Maine on Sunday after an energetic weekend vacation along the Atlantic coast.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha boarded a small military jet serving as Air Force One and took off from the Bar Harbor airport, returning to the White House by midday.

The Obamas spent much of their time hiking and biking in Acadia National Park. They also played tennis, went boating and enjoyed the food in the resort town of Bar Harbor. From the moment they arrived on Friday, it was clear they were determined to make the most of their time, much of it spent in the park.

The Obamas set the tone right away, motorcading straight from the airport to a park bike trail for an hour of cycling. What followed was a whirl of outings, as their motorcade crisscrossed Mount Desert Island. They went boating on Frenchman Bay, hiked on a park nature trail, played tennis, hung out at the pool, toured a lighthouse, had lunch and dinner at harborside restaurants and — of course — stopped for ice cream.

Even their dog Bo had fun, playfully wrapping up a Coast Guard lighthouse keeper in the leash Sasha, 9, was holding.

But the high point — literally — was their visit to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, listed by park officials as the tallest peak on the Eastern Seaboard. From the granite mountaintop, as they listened to a park superintendent, the Obamas beheld a spectacular vista of granite hills above an emerald bay.

It was certainly a more uplifting scene than what awaited the president on his return to Washington: more wrangling with a bitterly divided Congress heading toward the August recess, lawmakers’ attention increasingly focused on the fall elections.

The first family has more traveling this summer.

Malia, 12, is headed to summer camp for the first time. Her dad has said he plans to return to the Gulf Coast soon for another look at the oil spill zone. And residents of Martha’s Vineyard are wondering if the Obamas will spend part of the month on the island off the Massachusetts’ coast, as they did last summer.

The trip to Maine did appear to accomplish one important thing: breaking the Obama family travel jinx.

Since last year’s Vineyard stay was interrupted by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death and funeral, Obama family travel plans have been repeatedly altered by events.

Christmas Day in Hawaii had the president responding to a near-bombing of a Detroit-bound jet. A planned trip to Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his youth, has twice been postponed. And other trips have had their schedules scrambled.

Of course, the Obamas’ departure for Bar Harbor was itself delayed briefly, when Obama stopped to talk to reporters the morning after BP finally capped its runaway well that for weeks had poured millions of gallons of polluting crude into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, despoiling rich fishing grounds and chasing away summer vacationers.

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