Image: President Barack Obama and his daughters
AP
President Barack Obama spends his last day on a Martha's Vineyard vacation buying ice cream treats for his daughters at a general store and an oatmeal-raisin cookie for himself at a deli.
updated 8/30/2009 6:12:22 PM ET 2009-08-30T22:12:22

President Barack Obama returned to Washington Sunday after a weeklong vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

The presidential aircraft returned to the capital Sunday evening from the first family's vacation spot off the Massachusetts coast.

While on the island, Obama played golf, took first lady Michelle Obama to dinner and went for a bike ride with his daughters. He also grabbed a deep-fried seafood lunch with pal and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The vacation wasn't just all play. Obama on Tuesday announced he wanted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to serve another four-year term. On Saturday he delivered a eulogy for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in Boston.

The first family plans another attempt at a vacation over the Labor Day weekend. This time, they'll head to Camp David, Md.

Ice cream for his daughters
Obama spent his last day on a Martha's Vineyard vacation buying ice cream treats for his daughters at a general store and an oatmeal-raisin cookie for himself at a deli.

Wearing a White Sox cap, jeans and a black fleece jacket, the president made an unscheduled stop at the small village store just up the street from his rented Chilmark farm. The jaunt was one of the few times journalists have seen the president in public without golf clubs.

Obama made small talk with patrons before buying candy and ice cream at Alley's General Store.

"Hope you guys are having a good time," Obama told one customer as cameras clicked and the floor underfoot creaked.

The 12-minute expedition was one of the few public ones for the Obamas, who scheduled his first vacation as president for just a scant week despite the intense pressures of his office.

It was hardly the long week of quiet time to catch his breath that Obama had sought. The break began with a delayed departure last Sunday because of a hurricane, was briefly interrupted when he announced he would nominate Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second term, and then took a dramatic turn of tone when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died.

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‘Wishful thinking’
Trips to buy salt water taffy with his daughters quickly found Obama delivering remarks about the economy in a high school gymnasium full of the White House press corps and a eulogy to his former Senate colleague in a Boston basilica.

Video: Obama’s vacation ends; health fight looms "I think that when I said that the president wanted you guys to take long walks on the beach and relax and just enjoy yourselves and that there would be no news, maybe it was a little bit of wishful thinking," a slightly sheepish spokesman Bill Burton told reporters. In fact, Burton had brought his own wife to Martha's Vineyard, expecting a light week.

It's practically written into the presidential job description that no commander in chief can take a true turn-it-all-off vacation. He gets briefings from aides almost every day. World events invariably intrude.

Obama found a chance to go to the beach and to the golf course several times. He's played tennis with his wife, gone out to dinner and grabbed deep-fried takeout for a private lunch at senior adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett's home in Oak Bluffs. Other quick trips away from the compound meant climbing a 16th-century lighthouse and a fast bike ride around the idyllic island off the coast of Massachusetts.

During the final hours of his vacation, he and his family made a quick trip to buy souvenirs and snacks under gray, rainy skies. He walked from the country store, where he suggested earrings for his daughters but lost out to Nerd candies. He handed a clerk a $20 note for a $4.99 bill and declined change.

‘A cookie sounds about right’
He then walked across the parking lot to a deli. There, a clerk suggested he try a fresh cookie.

"You know, I think a cookie sounds about right," said Obama, who was accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia and his niece, Suhaila Ng.

At that store, Garcia's Bakery and Deli, he made pleasantries with the staff and posed for a picture.

"You're going to be a freshman this year?" Obama asked the clerk who charged him for his baked goods. "That's exciting."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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