BAR HARBOR – Julia Freifeld of Raleigh, N.C., was sure she knew one stop the Obamas would make during their weekend getaway on Mount Desert Island.
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.
On the streets of this popular tourist town, it was apparent that everyone knew where President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, had been or were going — or thought they did.
As it turns out, the first family was just down the street from Ben & Bill’s on Friday afternoon, having ice cream at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, according to the White House pool report.
Earlier in the day, the Obamas were greeted by Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who represents Maine’s 2nd District, when they landed in nearby 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, Michelle Obama, dressed in black capris, a tank top and sandals, walked onto the runway. Shortly after, Malia and Sasha joined their parents.
Baldacci and his wife, Karen, presented the first family with bags full of Maine-made gifts, including baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, popcorn from Little Lad’s Bakery in East Corinth, 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 and one chickadee toy, which sound their natural calls.
Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog, and the president’s personal aide, Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci. “We’re ready, we’re going to do it all,” he said with a big smile.
The Obamas are scheduled to stay on the island until Sunday morning. They aren’t scheduled to make any public appearances, and their itinerary is not being disclosed.
Air traffic at the small Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport was shut down for the presidential arrival. A Coast Guard helicopter patrolled the air in anticipation of the first family’s touchdown, and two local fire/rescue trucks were stationed on the otherwise empty tarmac.
The Obamas made the short ride onto Mount Desert Island in a motorcade of at least 16 vehicles, led by two Maine State Police cruisers and including five black Chevrolet Suburbans.
After some early morning fog, 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 any aircraft the president is traveling on. It’s usually a 747, which is too large for the airport runway in Trenton.
Dozens of members of the local and national media were on the tarmac to capture the Obamas’ arrival in Maine.
Even before they stopped at their hotel, the Bar Harbor Regency on Route 3, the family went biking for more than an hour around Witch Hole Pond in Acadia National Park.
They then proceeded straight to the top of Cadillac Mountain. At the summit, the Obamas got a personal tour from Acadia Superintendent Sheridan Steele and talked to several families who were touring the mountain.
The Obamas then took a leisurely stroll along a lower pathway that offers stunning views of Frenchman Bay.
Walking by themselves as spectators and media watched from a distance, Barack and Michelle Obama held hands as they strolled along the path, with Sasha and Malia trailing closely behind.
Kevin Miller of the Bangor Daily News, representing Maine in the White House press pool, contributed to this report.