Christmas Eve is Family Day for the Obamas
Thursday, DECEMBER 24
With the exception of Obama’s morning solo trip to the gym, he spent most of Christmas Eve day with his family. First up was a hike up the Judd Trail with FLOTUS and the girls and friends. The Judd Trial “traverses through primarily bamboo, ironwood and eucalyptus forest” high above Honolulu, according to a local hiking website. The press didn’t see them, but reporters traveling in the motorcade said it was raining up there during the hike.
After hiking the trail, which was just under a mile long, they headed directly to the beach, the beach at Bellows Air Force Station to be exact. It’s not too far from their Kailua vacation rental and not only does the beach there have bright blue water and fine, soft sand, it also offers some privacy for the First Family and their friends since it’s on a military installation. They spent about 3 hours there before returning to their rental.
Later that night the First Family headed to MW Restaurant in Honolulu for their Christmas Eve dinner. It’s billed as a trendy spot known for using local ingredients and serving Hawaiian cuisine.
In addition to family activities, the First Lady took about 40 minutes out of her morning to take phone calls from kids and discuss Christmas and NORAD’S Santa-tracker. (http://www.noradsanta.org/) In what’s become an annual tradition, FLOTUS spoke with about 22 kids (or their parents) about where Santa is in the world and what they hope to get for Christmas. The White House releases a transcript of the calls and some of the exchanges could be filed under “kids say the darndest things.” This year was no exception and included this one from a child named Peyton who confided to the First Lady: “I’m probably going to ask my mom if I can take a pill that will help me sleep, because otherwise I’m going to stay up all night.” Mrs. Obama replied: “Oh, that sounds — it’s a little exciting, right? … All right. Well you try to get a good night’s sleep tonight. And have a great Christmas in the morning,” according to the transcript.
Morning at the Gym and Afternoon on the Green
Wednesday, DECEMBER 23
Obama spent the fifth day of his Hawaii vacation doing what we expect him to do: a morning at the gym and an afternoon on the golf course. This afternoon’s choice was Kapolei Golf Course on Oahu’s west side. His partners matched Monday’s team of Greg Orme, Darrell Harrington and Bobby Titcomb, and the foursome spent more than five hours on the course.
Outside of their regular vacation activities, the First Couple (along with Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden) released their holiday playlists. The lists, which are available through the Spotify music service on the White House’s official channel, include some old standards and some new music and some new versions of some old standards. The Biden’s included a Coldplay song in their list. Their son Beau was a Coldplay fan and the band’s lead singer Chris Martin played at Beau’s funeral in June. You may peruse the lists at http://go.wh.gov/spotify.
Obamas Unwind With a Volcano Climb
Tuesday, DECEMBER 22
President Obama got an early start on his Tuesday, waking up earlier than he did Monday to hit the gym. After his 90-minute workout, the president, joined by the first lady, opted for a hike — a very steep one. The Obamas scaled Kohelepelepe, or Koko Crater, a dormant cinder cone volcano on Oahu’s southeast side. The trail runs about 1,000 feet up, and locals say it’s a tough climb.
Commercial real estate agent Bill Froelich was surprised to bump into the first couple at the summit. “Mr. and Mrs. Obama are in great shape. I do this hike weekly and they did it very fast. I would say faster than 90 percent of people,” said Froelich, who says he’s been climbing the trail over the past nine years. “I was super-impressed with that. They hustled to the top and took a nice family photo.”
Froelich said he exchanged greetings with the Obamas.
“Mr. Obama shook my hand. And we exchanged Merry Christmases and a shaka. [a Hawaiian “hang loose” sign],” he said.
“Mrs. Obama and I exchanged Merry Christmases. I also thanked her for her involvement in Play 60 and childhood obesity. She said, ‘Thank you,’” he said.
The Obamas’ hike took only about an hour up and down, and by a little after 12 p.m. local time, they were back at their vacation home and down for the rest of the day.
Obama Has His PGA moment, Sinks 40-Footer in Front of the Cameras
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
President Obama made his vacation debut for the press on day three while playing golf at Mid Pacific Country Club in Lanikai.
The president enjoyed a near-PGA moment as he sunk a chip from 40 feet on the 18th green. While we don’t know his final score, he reveled in the moment — tipping his cap to onlookers and high-fiving one of his golf partners before pointing toward the pool cameras, making sure the press caught the moment.
Obama’s golf partners included childhood friends Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb, as well as golf buddy Darrell Harrington.
Obama started his day with his first trip to the gym this vacation, working out for about an hour at his usual gym on the grounds of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
–Jon Garcia and Serena Marshall
Gun Violence Was on Obama’s Mind on Day Two of Hawaii Vacation
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
President Obama took a pause during day two of his Hawaii vacation to take to Twitter to praise the teen victim of an apparently gang-related, random shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot. He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?” the president asked on his Twitter feed.
Dobson, police say, was trying to shield three female friends from the gunfire when he was hit in the head late Thursday night.
Obama’s tenure as president has been marked by repeated incidents of major gun violence and he has been lobbying Congress unsuccessfully to pass stricter gun safely laws.
Shortly after Obama tweeted, he departed his Kailua rental home in a light rain to take his family on a hike.
First lady Michelle Obama and their two girls, Sasha and Malia, accompanied the president up to the Makiki Loop Hawaii Nature Center for a more than 90-minute hike. The Hawaii Nature Center is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving areas of Oahu and Maui for connecting children with nature.
The drive to the Nature Center took Obama by his childhood school, Punahou School, a private college prep institution where the president spent much of the 1970s.
The first family ended their Sunday with dinner at Morimoto, one of their go-to spots on Waikiki Beach. This is the fourth year in a row they’ve made the Asian-fusion restaurant—run by celebrity Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto—their first pick for dinner out.
Obama Keeps 1st Day Golf Tradition Alive
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
If you’re a follower of the ABC News President Obama vacation blog, this might seem like a cut-and-paste of the “day one” entry of 2014.
The president went golfing with the same group as last year at the same course as last year. Staffers Mike Brush and Joe Paulsen hit the links with Obama and his long-time pal Bobby Titcomb at the Kaneohe Klipper golf club at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and, like last year, the round lasted about four hours and the White House, once again, did not release the scores.
Obama arrived in Hawaii in the wee hours of the morning and he got a little bit of a later start this year, starting his round in the early afternoon. Journalists traveling with the president reported seeing only the motorcade cars wiz by as they joined the procession as there were no direct sighting of the president or his golfing party.
First Family Arrives in Hawaii for Christmas Vacation
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
President Obama arrived in Hawaii this morning for his annual Christmas vacation with his family.
Air Force One landed early Saturday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. It’s the family’s seventh Oahu vacation since the president took office.
They plan to spend about two weeks on vacation. The president has no public events planned during the vacation.
As he stares down his final year in office, President Obama is making a bee-line for the golf course and the beach.
Obama departed today for a 16-day holiday in his native Hawaii, the first family’s seventh Oahu vacation since the president took office.
It caps a rough-and-tumble year for the 44th President of the United States, marked by the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and terror attacks in the West that sent his approval ratings into a slide. But Obama is also celebrating some historic milestones in 2015: a landmark global climate agreement, massive trans-Pacific free-trade deal, a nuclear deal with Iran and legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.
“Since taking this office, I have never been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now,” Obama told reporters at his year-end news conference before heading on vacation. “In 2016, I am going to leave it all on the field.”
ABC News is following the president in Hawaii to give you a behind-the-scenes look at Obama on vacation.
Off to Hawaii, With a Somber Stopover in San Bernardino
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
President Obama’s vacation away from the White House is beginning on a somber tone as the president makes a brief detour to San Bernardino, California, to console grieving families of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.
The White House said Obama plans to meet privately with families and victims of the attack.
“Obviously those families are going through a difficult time, not just because they’ve lost loved ones, but obviously, at the holiday season, I think that loss is even more acute,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday. “So the president felt before he could begin his holiday, that it was important for him to spend some time with these — with these Americans who are mourning.”
Once he arrives in Hawaii on Saturday, Earnest added that the president’s intent “is to get a couple of weeks in Hawaii spending some down time” with his family.
ABC News’ John Parkinson contributed to this report.
This post will be regularly updated throughout the first family’s 16-day vacation.