Obamas marvel at Grand Canyon



GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK - US president and city slicker Barack Obama plunged into the American wilderness Sunday, gazing out with his two young daughters at the awesome void of the Grand Canyon.
Topping off a weekend of hiking, fishing and white-water rafting in US national parks, the Obamas strolled along the top of the deep red rock gorge in Arizona which is one of America's most famous natural landmarks.



Obamas marvel at Grand Canyon
"The last time I was here is when I was 11 years old," Obama told his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.
Asked by a guide whether the chasm still looked the same, he answered "it does," prompting the First Lady to joke "he's not that old!"
Obama, known more as a basketball player and a gym rat than a backcountry man, and who once pounded gritty inner city Chicago streets as a community organizer, is retracing a childhood vacation from his native Hawaii.
At Powell Point, which overlooks the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Obama and daughters asked park ranger Scott Kraynak questions about wildlife and the geological make-up of the gorge's rocks.
The Obamas have combined political and ceremonial duties with private sightseeing and dining in places like London, Paris and New York this year.
Their mountain west tour included a visit on Saturday to the "Old Faithful" geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
"Oh, that's pretty cool," Obama was heard to say as Old Faithful, tucked in a natural amphitheater formed by Yellowstone's towering mountains, spurted thousands of gallons of boiling water and steam into the air.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama, taking time out from selling his health care reform plan amid Washington's corrosive political wars, "had a tremendous amount of fun at Yellowstone."
On Friday, the First Lady and her daughters braved driving rain and hail for the thrills and spills of a whitewater raft ride in Montana.
"They had a blast," said Gibbs.
Obama meanwhile went fly fishing, a goal he often expressed on the campaign trail, but did not manage to land a trout.
"Literally, we -- every time we'd been to Montana... he said, 'I'm going to come back here and learn how to fly fish,'" Gibbs said.
"He was dying to do that, and finally got a chance to do that -- though was a bit frustrated he didn't get to hold one of the fish," the spokesman said.
Saturday, in Colorado, while Obama stepped up his defense of his health care plan, his wife and daughters went on a peach picking expedition, coming away with a sumptuous haul of fruits bigger than baseballs.
Next weekend, the first family begins a week-long stay on the well-heeled East Coast getaway destination of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Obama was due to return to Washington from Arizona on Monday after giving a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars service organization.
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Sunday, August 16th 2009
AFP
           


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