Tales from the Trail

Obamas seek shrimp as rain lets up on Martha’s Vineyard

The First Family took advantage of a break in the rainy weather on Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday to escape their holiday farm and make their first public foray together.

They wound up at Nancy’s seafood restaurant on the waterfront in the town of Oak Bluffs.
First Lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the crowd after three solid days of driving rain that had kept holiday-makers, including the Obamas, holed up playing board games and reading books to make the most of their summer vacation.

“How you guys doing? Drying off? Finally,” she asked restaurant guests, after shepherding her daughters Malia and Sasha into the restaurant for a late lunch with friends.

Complimented by a well-wisher on a purple-colored watch, she confided it was a present from the president, but hinted that he had gotten help in making the selection.

“I think somebody told him,” she said, clad in white Capri pants and a coral-colored cardigan over a striped shirt.

On rainy Martha’s Vineyard, Obama hunkers down — and reads

USA/So much for perfecting that golf game.

President Barack Obama has spent a lot of time indoors during his vacation. The posh island of Martha’s Vineyard has had a spot of bad weather — as in rain, rain, and more rain.

That means the sporty president, who likes to spend his free time on the greens, hasn’t made it to a golf course since Sunday, when his game almost got canceled because of impending storms.

Since then he’s been hanging out at the rented compound he is sharing with his family, playing games and reading books.

Obama unwinds into summer vacation, reading list revealed

Finally,  the presidential summer reading list is revealed — well, one book anyway.

OBAMA/President Barack Obama took his daughters book browsing on Day 2 of the First Family’s summer vacation on the upscale Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Obama, casually dressed and sporting a baseball cup of his beloved White Sox, greeted and shook the hands of surprised shoppers in The Bunch of Grapes book store on Main Street in the pretty seaside town of Vineyard Haven, before leading Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, upstairs to browse.

Washington Extra – swimming with the fishes

The U.S. economy continues to swim with the fishes – weekly unemployment claims are at a nine-month high and the director of the Congressional Budget Office says the unemployment rate won’t fall to around 5 percent until 2014. Not much in the way of economic sunshine today.

USA/President Barack Obama commented on the economic cloud before heading to Martha’s Vineyard where his family is taking their end-of-summer vacation.  

We’re wondering if the Secret Service will allow the First Family to frolic in the waters off the Massachusetts island given that several great white sharks were spotted close to the Cape Cod shore at the end of July. Remember, “Jaws” the movie was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard (it’s hard to write out the movie sound of the shark approaching, but you get the picture).

Obama tees up his “staycation”

President Barack Obama is following up his busy week in Martha’s Vineyard with … another holiday. But, like many Americans in this time of economic recession, he is taking a “staycation” — time off without leaving home.

In Obama’s case, home is the White House, and as president he cannot truly leave his work behind. His “break” on Martha’s Vineyard was interrupted repeatedly by breakingUSA/OBAMA news, including his renomination of Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve and the death of Obama’s friend and former colleague, the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

But the president appears to be doing his best to relax. He squeezed in four golf outings last week on the Massachusetts island, and on Monday he headed out at lunchtime, beginning his “staycation” with another round of golf, this time at a country club outside Washington.

What is it about presidents and golf?

OBAMA/President Barack Obama seems to have a new favorite past-time. The 48-year-old campaigned as a basketball player, but now his heart seems to belong to the links. He has squeezed at least four golf outings — three for 18 holes and one just nine — into his week-long vacation on the Massachusetts island Martha’s Vineyard, despite two days of rain and a trip over to Boston for the funeral of his friend and former colleague, the late Senator Edward Kennedy.******Lately Obama has also been golfing on most Sundays when he is in Washington, generally on courses at military bases near the city.******His foursomes are more likely to include long-time friends and aides than well-heeled contacts — this week he golfed with a top executive of the UBS investment bank, but he also played with a White House assistant chef and a press aide.******The habit has attracted a few jibes. Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan used it to publicize a news conference she was planning on the island during Obama’s visit. “When President Obama was playing golf yesterday, four soldiers died in Afghanistan,” Sheehan said in a flyer distributed at the Martha’s Vineyard White House press center this week.******But for U.S. presidents, golfing is — er — par for the course. Fifteen of the past 18, including Obama, have golfed, according to Golf Digest magazine. Obama explained its appeal for him this summer in an interview with CBS News. Although he was unhappy with the state of his game (he took more than five hours to play 18 holes this week, and a woman who lived near one course described his ball hitting a tree), he said it gives him a chance to relax and spend time with friends, largely unobserved (the Secret Service is around, but often off in the woods, Obama said) and away from reporters and photographers.******”It is the only time that, for six hours, first of all, that I’m outside. And second of all, where you almost feel normal, in the sense that you’re not in a bubble,” he told CBS News.******OBAMA/Golf Digest ranked John F. Kennedy as the top presidential golfer, noting that his average score was 80, despite chronic back pain. Back in January, it put the athletic Obama 8th.******The presidents who didn’t golf? Golf Digest says they were Jimmy Carter , Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt. But Roosevelt would have been another golfing president if he had had his way. According to the Armchair Golf Blog, Roosevelt loved playing golf as a young man, but polio in 1923 forced him to give the game up.******Photo credits: Obama golfing on Martha’s Vineyard, Reuters/JASON REED

Postcards from the edge: Obama sans helmet

OBAMA/President Barack Obama got a lot of blog biting for looking “dorky” (hey not our word) when he wore a bicycle helmet while dodging traffic in the urban streets of Chicago.

So it was a different look when he was photographed on a bicycle in the fields of Martha’s Vineyard with hair freely blowing in the wind (although we are told it’s unclear whether the helmet was off only at the time the photograph was taken or through the whole ride).

 All other family members with him were in helmets for sure.

OBAMA/The White House assures everyone that the president “supports the wearing of bicycle helmets.”

Activist Sheehan is a bipartisan vacation protester

OBAMA/War protester Cindy Sheehan, who sought to be a thorn in President George W. Bush’s side over the Iraq war, has set her sights on a new war, Afghanistan, and a new U.S. leader, President Barack Obama, this week.

Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, set up a small “Camp Casey,” named for her late child, near Blue Heron Farm, the compound on the Massachusetts island Martha’s Vineyard where Obama and his family are spending a weeklong holiday. While Bush was president, she was a frequent protester during his vacations in his adopted hometown of Crawford, Texas. She began visiting Crawford in the summer of 2005 when she wanted to meet with Bush while he was vacationing at his ranch. Bush had met with her after her son died but did not see her again, although he sent two top aides to talk to her.

Sheehan became perhaps the most public face of opposition to the Iraq War, but some strident statements made some observers categorize her as more of a fringe figure over time.

Obama’s summer holiday no walk on the beach

OBAMA/President Barack Obama began his summer vacation by sending a specific message to the White House press corps.

 ”He wants you to relax and have a good time,” Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said as Air Force One carried the first family to the Massachusetts island where they are spending a week-long holiday. “Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody is looking to make any news, so he’s hoping that you guys can enjoy Martha’s Vineyard while we’re there.”

“I asked him if he had a message for the press corps, and that’s what it is,” Burton said.

Obama’s summer holiday reading list: 2,300 pages

OBAMA/President Barack Obama is squeezing some reading into his week-long Martha’s Vineyard vacation. OK, a lot more than “some.”

The brainy president has brought along a stack of five books– three novels and two works of non-fiction — to amuse himself in between rounds of golf, visits with friends, activities with his family and the inescapable business of running the country while he is on the Massachusetts island.

Two of the novels are thrillers, but his reading list is hardly light, literally or figuratively, with a total for the five books of more than 2,300 pages.