Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Obamas arrive in Hawaii for vacation

. Wednesday, January 06, 2010
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President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009. The President and his family are flying to Hawaii for vacation.

HONOLULU -- President Barack Obama arrived in Hawaii on Thursday for a holiday vacation in the state where he was born and lived as a child.

The president, first lady and their daughters came to the island of Oahu for a more-than-weeklong vacation away from Washington. The Obamas have no public schedule and are expected to celebrate the holidays in private at a rented compound in Kailua.

AP Photo - First lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, walk up the stairs to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, prior to flying to Hawaii for the holidays.

A crowd of about 75 military servicemen and women and Hawaii politicians including Gov. Linda Lingle greeted Air Force One when it landed at Hickam Air Force Base. Obama took several minutes to greet military personnel and their families before getting in a black SUV for the ride to his vacation home.

People carrying cameras, dogs and children lined the streets along the road as his motorcade made its way to Kailua from the air base.

Some flashed the shaka or "hang loose" sign at the nation's first Hawaii-born president. Others held placards wishing the Obama family a Merry Christmas.

AP Photo - President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia arrive at Hickam Air Force base for their holiday vacation in Honolulu, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009

A group of Hawaiian sovereignty activists standing near Pinky's restaurant in Kailua spelled out "End US Occupation of Hawaii."

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann predicted the national media attention the visit is receiving will boost the state's tourism industry.

"I think it's going to create all kinds of demand," Hannemann told KHON from Hickam, where he was among those greeting the president. "People are going to want to come here when they see the president sunning and funning in Hawaii."

Obama left the White House earlier on Christmas Eve after the U.S. Senate passed health care legislation. Obama leaves behind a Washington bitterly divided over his top domestic priority. The first family's departure was delayed until senators took action.

AP Photo - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, greet supporters after arriving at Hickam Air Force base for their holiday vacation in Honolulu, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009.

Obama spent part of last December in Hawaii, where his mother and grandmother raised him. The family has made an annual tradition of coming back to the islands.

Obama was born at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu and attended Punahou School from fifth grade until he graduated from high school.

He's staying at the same rented oceanfront vacation home as last year on a quiet block of Windward Oahu.

The Secret Service has set up multiple security checkpoints in the neighborhood, while the Coast Guard has set up a no-entry zone in part of Kailua Bay fronting the home.
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Eat at Obama's favorite Hawaii restaurants


President Barack Obama, with daughter Sasha Obama, 8, center, and other family friends, enjoy shave ice at Island Snow in Kailua, Hawaii Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. The Obamas are in Hawaii for the holidays.

HONOLULU — President Barack Obama doesn't need a restaurant guide when he visits Hawaii.

When the island icon comes home to visit family and vacation, he knows exactly where and what to eat. His favorites range from Hawaii's top fine-dining establishments to walk-up windows where $10 could buy a carb-rich feast.

Michelle Obama once said, "You can't really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii."


And there's no way to truly experience Hawaii without tasting the local "grinds."

During his past two visits to Honolulu, where he was born and raised, Obama provided a glimpse of what pleases his presidential palate. While he has undoubtedly become a fan of Chicago fare, he didn't experience deep-dish pizzas or Italian beef sandwiches growing up.

The closest young Obama got to snow was slurping a Hawaiian shave ice.

"I'm going to get a plate lunch," Obama proclaimed, moments after arriving in Honolulu on his August vacation.

The name "plate lunch" doesn't quite do it justice. It should be called: Heaping pile of rice and meat crammed into a plastic foam container that could feed a small family, costs about $6, will require a couple of Rolaids and induce a two-hour nap.

And if there's nothing on the plate that's deep fried, soaked in mayonnaise, smothered in gravy or doubles your bad cholesterol level, it's not a true plate lunch.

That could account for why the health-conscious president we see now was pleasantly plump during his childhood when he was known as "Barry."

Plate lunches have been a part of Hawaii for decades. They are believed to have originated in the 19th century plantation era, when sugarcane workers brought rice, pickled vegetables and other leftovers from dinner and took a lunch break together in the shade. Decades later, "lunch wagons" started delivering plate lunches to laborers, much like they do today.

Plate lunches reflect the state's multicultural population, with Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and American influences.

There are literally hundreds of combinations of plate lunches to choose from, and some places now offer gourmet selections and more healthy choices with brown rice and tossed salads, instead of the traditional white rice and macaroni salad.

Plate lunches are widely available from white lunch wagons parked around downtown and at many restaurants. The best spots don't show up in tour books, but the locals prefer it that way, because the lines are already too long.

Besides plate lunches, island cuisine often focuses on fresh fish and vegetables grown locally with seasonings borrowed from across the Pacific Rim.

At one point during his last visit, Obama offered journalists a shave ice. Hawaii's shave ice is a monster version of the snow cone, featuring fine-shaved powder with no icy chunks and a long list of tropical flavors.

"Guys, here's your chance," Obama said. "No? I'm telling you, this is really good."

[AP Photo]
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Michelle Obama

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Robinson was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. She graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and accepted a position with the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her future husband. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Throughout 2007 and 2008, she helped campaign for her husband's presidential bid and delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She is the mother of two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and is the sister of Craig Robinson, men's basketball coach at Oregon State University.
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