Obama Starts His Christmas Vacation

After a busy few weeks, the president says he just wants some R&R.

DECEMBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha Obama leave the White House for their holiday vacation December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC

DECEMBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha Obama leave the White House for their holiday vacation December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC

Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

After a bumpy year, it's vacation time for President Barack Obama.The first family (including the two first dogs) touched down at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam late Friday night before making their way to their rental home on the island of Oahu. 

The winter pilgrimage to the state where the president grew up has become an annual ritual for the Obamas, who are again staying in a rented luxurious beach-front home in the Kailua neighborhood. The president traditionally spends much of his time on the links, playing golf with friends, celebrities, and sometimes professional athletes. Together, the first couple works out at a nearby Marine Corps base and dines at some of the island's trendiest restaurants with friends and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who still lives in Hawaii. With daughters Sasha and Malia, they hike, body surf at the beach, and make an annual outing for shave ice—an island speciality. Obama favors lemon-lime, cherry, and passion-guava, also known as the “Snowbama” at Island Snow.

Unlike in previous years, where crises in Washington have delayed or all-but-canceled the trip, the family left as planned after Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill last week. The president has no public events planned during his trip and aides hope the trip will be a quiet one. He plans to return to Washington on Jan. 4. 

"And now I’m going to go on vacation," he said, ending his news conference on Friday.  "Mele Kalikimaka, everybody.  Mahalo."

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