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Friday, August 22, 2014

Notes from Bar Harbor, with the Obamas

All we wanted to do was get away. We booked a quiet inn in Bar Harbor, Maine, and planned to take walks in Acadia National Park, eat lobster and take naps. We went alone; we wanted peace and quiet.

After checking in on July 15, we strolled down Main Street, remarking to each other how patriotic the town seemed, with all the red, white and blue bunting. Flags flew from buildings and lamp posts. We’re slow learners, but when I saw the signs that said, “Welcome Mr. President; your lobster bake is on us,” I knew our weekend plans had changed. The Obamas flew into town the day after, and life changed for this summer haven on the northeast coast of Maine.

Normally reticent downeasters caught Obamamania, and it went viral. We have a great Secret Service, but every bus boy knew the First Family was staying at the Holiday Inn Regency down the block from us. As we walked down Main Street, everybody, and I mean everybody, was talking about the president and who saw him and where. People were alerting one another by cell phone to sightings of the motorcade, the family and the First Dog.

Those Obamas zoomed, let me tell you. They went right from the airport to Acadia, where they biked for two hours, then went hiking, then went back to their hotel.
On Friday afternoon, we were driving back from a lobster pound a half hour from Bar Harbor, moving slowly through the quiet seaside down of Southeast Harbor, when we noticed two local police officers standing on a corner.

Two is a very big presence in Southeast Harbor. We stopped just in time to stand with a few cheering bystanders as the president’s motorcade drove by. He was in the second car, smiling and waving through the window. But my eyes were on the car just behind his, with Secret Service agents crouched inside. They scanned the crowd as people just applauded and smiled. It was a moment of pure Americana.

Like him or not, support his policies or not, everyone I encountered seemed happy to welcome the Obamas and pleased with the burst of national attention.
Friday night we went to dinner at Havana in town. I told my husband that the president would either eat there because it’s Cuban or would not because it’s Cuban.

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