KAILUA, Hawaii — Almost immediately after he walked off Air Force One on Oahu early Thursday, a beaming President Obama had a green lei around his neck.
It was the first sign that while the president will be working during his TaylorMade Burner 2.0 Iron Set , it's not a "working vacation."
Administration aides emphasized that the president wanted real down time after the intense seven weeks since Election Day, and Obama started his 11-day trip with several hours of golf Thursday. He spent much of Friday afternoon at the beach with his daughters, Sasha and Malia, while his wife, Michelle, and dog Bo remained at home.
Mrs. Obama skipped the beach so she could give some lucky children a Christmas surprise. The first lady answered calls for the "Tracking Santa" program, a Christmas tradition run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (TaylorMade Burner 2.0 Iron Set ).
With help from NORAD's Santa Route Schedule, Mrs. Obama was able to tell children Santa's whereabouts as he made his Christmas Eve rounds.
Last Christmas, the president and first lady surprised troops stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, greeting service members during their holiday dinner. White House officials wouldn't say whether Obama planned to visit the troops again this Christmas.(TaylorMade Burner 2.0 Iron Set )
The base is a frequent stop for Obama during his Hawaiian vacations. He often starts his day with a morning workout at the base gym.
Forced to delay his vacation by five days as Congress worked on a series of his top priorities, Obama added a day on the end and will head back to Washington on Jan. 2, instead of on New Year's Day.(TaylorMade Burner 2.0 Iron Set )
White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama would spend time "recharging his batteries, spending time with family and dealing with presidential duties."
To be sure, a president is never truly off. He has spoken to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about the nuclear-weapons treaty between the United States and Russia that the Senate ratified Wednesday, and Obama receives a daily briefing on national-security issues.
The president also is preparing for a critical stage of his presidency in which he must work with a House now controlled by the Republicans and also start laying the groundwork for his re-election campaign in 2012. (TaylorMade Burner 2.0 Iron Set )