July 17, 2010

White House wanderers tour Acadia

By Rebekah Metzler rmetzler@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

BAR HARBOR -- Julia Freifeld, of Raleigh, N.C., was absolutely certain she knew where the Obamas would make a stop during their weekend getaway on Mount Desert Island.

click image to enlarge

AFOOT IN MAINE: Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele leads President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, on Friday during their visit to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor.

AP photo

Clarification: Today's story about the arrival of the Obamas said the Obama's dog and one aide arrived on a small jet before the First Family, but there were other occupants on the plane, including several other staffers. The presidential party took two small jets to the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton because the airport was too small to accommodate the president's usual jet.

She staked out Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium on Main Street in Bar Harbor.

"They are going to bring their daughters here," she said Friday afternoon.

Walking down the streets of the popular tourist town, everyone knew where the president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, would be going -- or thought they did, anyway.

As it turns out, the first family was just down the street, having ice cream at Mount Desert Ice Cream, according to the White House pool report.

Freifeld, her husband, Mark, and his brother, Richard, were staying on the island through the weekend, the couple's second trip to Maine.

"It's charming, scenic and beautiful," Julia Freifeld said of why they chose to revisit the popular vacation spot.

Earlier Friday, the Obamas were greeted by Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, when they arrived in Trenton about 12:25 p.m.

The president was the first to walk onto the tarmac, dressed casually in a pale blue Oxford shirt and khakis. A few minutes later, the first lady, dressed in black capris, a tank-top and sandals, walked onto the runway. Shortly afterward, Malia and Sasha joined their parents.

Baldacci and his wife, Karen, presented the family with gift bags full of Maine-made goodies, including baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, popcorn from Little Lad's Bakery in East Corinth, iconic L.L. Bean bags, University of Maine ice hockey hats, and an assortment of other Maine foods and books.

Karen Baldacci said the bags for Malia and Sasha contained one loon toy and one chickadee toy that sound their natural calls.

Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and the president's personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci.

"We're ready. We're going to do it all," Love said with a big smile.

Air traffic at the small Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton was shut down for the presidential arrival. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter patrolled the air in anticipation of the first family's touchdown, and a pair of local fire and rescue trucks stood ready on an otherwise empty tarmac at the private air hangar.

The Obamas then traveled onto Mount Desert Island in a motorcade of at least 16 vehicles. It was led by two Maine State Police cruisers and included five black Chevrolet Suburbans.

The early-morning fog quickly burned off, and the sky was bright blue for the arrival of Air Force One, which in this case was a G3 Gulf Stream.

Technically, Air Force One is whatever aircraft the president is traveling on. It usually is a 747, but a plane of that size would be too large for the Trenton airport runway to accommodate.

Dozens of members of local and national news media were on the tarmac to capture the Obamas' arrival in Maine.

Within 40 minutes of arriving on the island, even before making a stop at their hotel -- the Bar Harbor Regency on Route 3 -- the first family went bicycling for more than an hour around Witch Hole Pond in Acadia National Park.

They proceeded straight up Cadillac Mountain, which at 1,532 feet is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard.

At the summit, the Obamas were given a personal tour by Acadia Superintendent Sheridan Steele, and they chatted with several families who happened to be touring the mountain at the time.

(Continued on page 2)

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