The trouble with vacations is they must end.
President Barack Obama, perhaps recognizing that eternal truth of holiday-making, packed his last full day on Oahu with visits to family and friends, including Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who was spending his holidays in the same oceanfront neighborhood as the first family.
Vedder once performed at a fundraiser for Obama in Tampa, playing on the most Hawaiian of instruments, a ukelele. The gesture seemed to have left an impression on the commander-in-chief; the White House now describes the two as “friends.”
Obama also paid a visit to his half-sister on Saturday, and stopped at the Punchbowl Cemetery, where his maternal grandfather is buried. His daughters Malia and Sasha joined him for his rounds.
It made for a busy final day in Hawaii for Obama, who spent the previous two weeks relaxing at the beach, enjoying long dinners at Honolulu’s best restaurants and playing a lot of golf.
It was Obama’s sixth visit to Hawaii as President, and his routines on the island have become familiar to residents and his traveling entourage. He prefers the beach at Bellows Air Force Station — which can easily be cordoned off to prevent any photographs of a body surfing President.
He’s made annual visits to the collection of four-star kitchens near Waikiki: Alan Wong’s Morimoto and Nobu. This year he added another restaurant to his repertoire: Vintage Cave, a wine-and-dine club that charges $500,000 for a charter membership (one doesn’t need to be a member to eat there).
But his stand-by activity remains golf. In Hawaii his partners are a collection of childhood friends, White House aides and the occasional world leader. This year he spent an afternoon at the Kaneohe Bay course with the Malaysian Prime Minister.
While work intruded occasionally — calls to New York officials about the police shooting there, a briefing on the downed AirAsia plane, some new sanctions on North Korea — Obama’s winter vacation concluded without many distractions.
That’s likely a relief for the President, who spent his summer getaway on Martha’s Vineyard dealing with ISIS beheadings and unrest in Ferguson.
Busy or not, Obama’s winter getaway is now over. The President and his family arrived back to Washington Sunday after a red-eye flight.
And like everyone else, it’s back to work on Monday.