Just before climbing aboard Air Force One for an overnight flight back to Washington on Saturday night, President Obama had a final family luau at Buzz's Original Steakhouse in the Lanikai neighborhood of Kailua. Joined by First Lady Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, and friends, the President arrived for dinner at roughly 6:40 PM, and ended his Hawaiian idyll with a dinner that lasted close to two hours. The moderately priced, family-friendly eatery features a menu of island fusion comfort food starring Kiawe Broiled steak, burgers, and fish. The First Family headed for the airport immediately after. (Above, boarding Air Force One)
At dinner, the President was clad in a white button down with sleeves rolled up and dark trousers, while Mrs. Obama wore a graphic black and beige print sundress with a black bolero sweater, her hair held back in a black headband. Saturday was rainy and windy on island, and President Obama spent the day secluded with his family in his vacation mansion in Kailua, skipping his usual morning workout at the local Marine Corps base, and avoiding the golf course.
Right before the President left for dinner, the White House announced a change in schedule, pushing the President's flight home to 9:00 PM rather than the previously announced 10:00 PM for the ten-plus hour flight home.
The President and his party departed Buzz's at 8:34 PM, and traveled by motorcade to Hickam Air Force Base. A crowd was gathered behind a ropeline to watch the First Family's departure, and the President and Mrs. Obama held hands as they walked across the tarmac to greet Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander, US Pacific Command, Pamela Locklear, and Col. Johnny Roscoe, Commander, 15th Wing at Hickam. With the First Daughters already on Air Force One, after brief conversations the President walked with his arm around Mrs. Obama's waist up the stairs, turning to wave a final goodbye.
Buzz's is far more low-key than the restaurants the President chose for his three other vacation dinner excursions, all pricey establishments owned by acclaimed chefs. Entrees range from $11.95 to $15.95, with appetizers between $3 and $8.95, except for market-price tuna. Known for big salads, Buzz's is close to Kailua Beach Park, and patrons are as likely to be clad in bikinis and surf gear as they are in street clothes.
President Obama first flew to Hawaii on Dec. 21st and spent a total of nine days unwinding on Oahu split over two separate trips, thanks to returning to Washington to deal with the fiscal cliff. On Friday night, he dined with Mrs. Obama and friends at Nobu Wakiki, making his second visit to the eatery. Last Wednesday, the President and Mrs. Obama dined with friends at Alan Wong's restaurant in Honolulu, his seventh vacation visit to the eatery. During the first part of his vacation, the President and Mrs. Obama dined at Morimoto in Waikiki, also a repeat visit.
The President spent his time on island relaxing. The first part of his vacation had perfect weather, and he played golf with boyhood friends and White House aides, visited the beach with his family, and worked out. Christmas with his family was celebrated quietly at the vacation mansion. The President called troops deployed overseas, and in the afternoon visited troops and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The President and Mrs. Obama also attended the Punchbowl memorial service for Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had passed away in late December, and visited the grave of his grandfather Stanley Dunham.
The second part of the President's vacation was marred by almost constant rain, though he managed to play more golf, again joined by White House chef Sam Kass and friends. He also went bowling with his daughters and made his annual shave ice run to Island Snow in Kailua. Ending weeks of hysteria, the President signed the fiscal cliff tax legislation--by autopen. It includes a nine-month extension of the Farm Bill.
Mrs. Obama and the girls stayed on island when President Obama returned to Washington mid-vacation. Thanks to his double commute aboard Air Force One back and forth to DC, he will have spent about forty hours in the air for this vacation.
The President is scheduled to arrive at the White House at 10:45 AM Sunday morning, and has no public events on his schedule. "The President will spend next week in Washington, DC and attend meetings at the White House," the White House said.
*Pool photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP