OBAMA VISITS OAHU SITES
Obama stops at USS Arizona Memorial
|Photo gallery: Obama on East Oahu|
By Allison Schaefers
For the Wall Street Journal
By Allison Schaefers
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama left his Kailua rental at 7:54 a.m. today to begin his last vacation day in Hawai'i at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
The motorcade, which included five cars and two police vehicles, arrived at Hanauma Bay at 8:29 a.m. as rain began to fall.
"Let's get under a tree really quick," Obama told his daughters.
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was wearing a red and black aloha shirt, greeted the party. There was a small crowd present. On the way to the preserve, Obama's motorcade traveled through the town of Waimanalo and passed various attractions including Manana Island, affectionately called Rabbit Island by Hawaii residents, and the house where "Magnum P.I." was filmed.
Obama, who wore his favorite White Sox cap, a gray T-shirt and black shorts on the excursion, carried a large Macy's shopping bag filled with beach gear. He wore slippers.
Obama was accompanied by his children and longtime friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker, who have been with him in Hawai'i throughout his vacation. His wife, Michelle, was not present.
In 2004, Hanauma Bay — long distinguished by its coral sand beach, aquamarine waters and rainbow-colored sea life — topped the annual rankings of best beaches from Stephen Leatherman, the Florida environmental scientist known as "Dr. Beach."
At 10:56 a.m., Obama departed, leaving most members of his entourage, including his daughters, behind. By now, the sun was shining.
At 11:01 a.m., Obama's motorcade stopped at a point near Halona Blowhole so that he could pay his respects to his late mother S. Ann Dunham, who died in 1995.
Getting out of his car, Obama, who was accompanied by his former high-school pals Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb and a Secret Service agent, walked down to the visit the spot where his mother's ashes were scattered.
Obama pulled apart a white lei and dropped petals into the surf. About 30 Hawai'i residents and visitors watched from behind a lava stone wall. Nearby, a personal water craft circled in the water and two fishermen cast their lines.
As Obama left the point at 11:05 a.m., some watchers clapped.
"We're kind of excited to see him," said Mary Karagiannis, a visitor from San Francisco. "We had read he was here visiting his family. It's a small world."
At 11:13 a.m., Obama, Orme and Titcomb stopped at Sandy Beach Park, a favorite Honolulu bodysurfing spot. Obama and Orme took off their shirts and promptly dove into a wave. After surfacing, Obama shook hands with nearby swimmers.
Obama bodysurfed and joked around with friends for about half an hour.
About 20 people stood on the beach and gawked as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee played in his home surf, although some sunbathers and swimmers seemed oblivious to his visit.
At 11:37 a.m., Obama left Sandy Beach to return to Hanauma Bay, where he reconnected with other friends and family members. He arrived at Hanauma Bay at 11:43 a.m. and the motorcade departed at 12:01 p.m.
The motorcade returned to Obama's Kailua rental at 12:37 p.m.
At 1:52 p.m., Obama's motorcade left the Kailua rental and headed to the USS Arizona Memorial, arriving about 2:30 p.m.
Obama was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, his daughters, and other friends and extended family members. There were about 24 people in their party.
Obama, who had changed into a white Polo shirt and Levi's, was still wearing his favorite baseball cap. Michelle wore a white tank top and white Capri pants with a woven metallic belt and flat shoes. She wore her hair pulled back and had on large silver hoop earrings.
The group boarded a private ferry for their trip to the memorial. Upon entering the vessel, Obama shook hands with assembled U.S. Navy sailors. He also compared tans with the traveling press and joked that he could tell who had been working the hardest based on their level of sun exposure.
"I can tell who has been naughty and who has been nice," he said. "There's a contrast between who has been in the (protective) pool and who has been in the sun."
Upon entering the memorial, Obama held hands with his eldest daughter, 10-year-old Malia, as he approached the wall of names.
Daniel Martinez, the chief historian for USS Arizona Memorial, explained the significance of the wall to the Obama family.
While the family visited the site, another ferry load of passengers was allowed to board. Some visitors were so mesmerized by Obama and his entourage that they missed their own ferry, and one family was so distracted by the commotion surrounding Obama that they temporarily lost track of their 6-year-old daughter.
When it was determined that she had inadvertently taken an earlier ferry, her family was allowed to catch a ride with Obama's private group.
At 3:16 p.m., Obama's group left the memorial. Upon disembarking, Obama agreed to pose for a photo with six sailors. One of them gave him a gift of U.S. Navy coins.
At 3:30 p.m., the motorcade left Pearl City. Traffic was heavy as they headed toward Honolulu.