First lady Laura Bush arrives to vacation in Olympic National
PORT ANGELES, WA-- It's a popular destination, especially in the summer months, but Lake Crescent Lodge will play host this week to a very special guest -- Laura Bush.
The first lady arrived Friday afternoon at William R. Fairchild International Airport for what sources say is a weeklong personal vacation to Olympic National Park.
President Bush met with the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority on Friday and was not with his wife when she arrived in a Gulfstream G3 jet with ``United States of America'' painted on the side.
The plane was called ``Executive One Foxtrot'' during the flight that carried Mrs. Bush across the continent.
Sources told the Peninsula Daily News that Mrs. Bush and a few personal friends hiked in Olympic National Park for several hours Saturday, hiking about eight miles to and from Obstruction Point.
Mrs. Bush will stay at the lodge beginning tonight, according to a resort employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.
First lady spending week in Olympic National Park
"I have a group of friends that I grew up with in Midland, Texas, and we hike every summer at a national park," said Mrs. Bush.
KING 5 News caught up with Mrs. Bush at the Lake Crescent Lodge. She invited KING 5's Tricia Manning-Smith to speak privately with her after a relaxing morning with her friends. She described taking a hike Saturday in the mountains near Hurricane Ridge.
Her last minute detour vacation here caught local residents by surprise. Pilot Jeff Well heard a government plane was landing, but he couldn't believe it when he saw the first lady emerge.
"The most prominent person I know has come to Port Angeles in some time," he said.
The first lady plans to spend a week in Washington. She wants to
see the rain forest on the coast. She said these annual vacations
with her childhood friends offer her a "great rest" from
the White House.
So while the president grapples with war and world affairs in the other Washington, Mrs. Bush relishes a little reprieve with those who knew her long before she was under constant surveillance.
"We love this time together every summer when we have the chance to be together and to really see how beautiful our country is," she said.
The first lady said this is her first visit to a Washington state park.
Laura Bush vacationing on Olympic Peninsula
“The city manager told me that he had a call from the Secret Service so that we know that she’s here,” Wiggins said. “And she’s hiking in the mountains.”
A weekend duty officer at the White House told the Peninsula Daily News that Mrs. Bush is on private time, meaning the White House does not confirm anything about the first lady’s activities or say where she is.
The first lady was spotted dining Friday evening with friends at Bella Italia restaurant in downtown Port Angeles, sparking excitement among restaurant staffers and guests.
“She enjoyed a nice, leisurely meal,” restaurant owner Neil Conklin said. “It created excitement during what was a very busy night. When some people recognized who she was, it created a little buzz.”
Mrs. Bush and her friends stayed at the restaurant for about two hours while a security detail sat in a separate booth.
She arrived in Port Angeles without fanfare on Friday afternoon at William R. Fairchild International Airport. Originally, she and her friends were scheduled to visit to Glacier National Park, Mont., but forest fires diverted the trip to the Olympic Peninsula, the newspaper reported.
Mrs. Bush is reportedly staying at Lake Crescent Lodge, the newspaper said, citing a resort employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We’re totally excited,” the employee said. “It’s a good opportunity for the Peninsula to showcase what we have here.”
Other dignitaries who have stayed at Lake Crescent Lodge since it opened in 1916 include President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
The 52-room resort overlooking Lake Crescent west of Port Angeles
is normally booked this time of year. The resort employee said last-minute
cancellations made it possible to accommodate the first lady.
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