The White House settled one post-presidential mystery on Wednesday, answering the question of where will George W. Bush go when his term as president ends on the afternoon of Jan. 20?
Bush has always said he and first lady Laura Bush would go back home to Texas. But exactly where remained a bit of a mystery.
Would he go directly to his beloved ranch in Crawford, Texas, the place dubbed the "Western White House" where he welcomed numerous world leaders and spent countless hours clearing brush? Or would it be to the newly purchased home in an affluent North Dallas neighborhood?
White House press secretary Dana Perino announced Wednesday that when Bush leaves Washington and the White House behind in less than two weeks he will depart from Andrews Air Force Base and head to his boyhood hometown of Midland, Texas, for a welcome home event in Centennial Plaza, the town square.
Eight years ago, in January 2001, Midland was the setting for the send-off event as then-President-elect Bush headed for the White House.
After the Jan. 20 festivities in Midland, Perino said, Bush will fly to Waco on his way to spend his first night as a private citizen, once again, at the Crawford ranch.
Laura Bush, who met with reporters Wednesday to show off a new gold-rimmed set of state china, said she and the president would fly back to the ranch with "a number of friends" who will spend the night with them.
"So that will be fun," she said.
The Bushes will move into their Dallas house a few days after that — or whenever the painters have finished, the first lady said.
Bush's last visit to the West Texas town he once called home came in October, when he attended a Republican fundraiser.
Bush spent several of his boyhood years in Midland in the 1950s because his father, former President George H.W. Bush, had come to the area shortly after World War II in search of crude oil. Laura Bush grew up in Midland and returned frequently as first lady because her mother, Jenna Welch, still lives there.
The president and first lady attended the same Midland school for just one year, in seventh grade. They did not really know each other until when, as 31-year-olds, they met again in Midland at the backyard barbecue of mutual friends. The Bushes married three months later, in 1977.
Bush returned to Midland in the 1970s to follow in his father's footsteps by getting into the oil business himself. He spent the early years of his marriage in the city, and his twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, where born there. Bush did not have much success with his energy business and the family left about a decade later.
While in Midland, he ran for Congress — his first bid for public office and his only loss as a politician.