KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine – President Bush opened a long weekend of golf and fishing Friday by hooking his first drive into a riverbank. He found his stroke on his second try, cheered by his father, who proclaimed it a "good ball!"
Father and son left their family's coastal compound just after dawn, taking a mini-motorcade to nearby Cape Arundel Golf Club, where they have been golfing for years. The first president drove their golf cart up to the first tee, the current president riding shotgun with his feet up on the dash. "Good morning, everybody!" he said to a group of reporters.
The father-son pair took a couple of warm-up drives, neither pleased with the results. "Reload," George H.W. Bush mumbled after his first drive. His son's first shot followed a hard arc to the left into the mud along the Kennebunk River. The second shot was long and straight.They were joined by club pro Ken Raynor and by Mark Plummer, a multiple winner of Maine's amateur championship.
Three generations of Bushes were spending Father's Day weekend at Walker's Point, the family's estate here along Atlantic coastline.
It won't all be rest and relaxation. Bush gets regular daily briefings on pressing matters whenever he spends his time away from the White House. This weekend, salvaging Mideast peace looms large. But Bush ignored a reporter's question about whether the road map (search), the peace plan he helped craft, is in jeopardy following a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
The emphasis was decidedly on unwinding here during a weekend in which the family was celebrating the 79th birthday of the first President Bush.
Arriving at the family's oceanside estate, Bush quickly shed the suit and tie for running shorts, a white T-shirt and sneakers. Using a tennis racket, he whacked an orange ball for dog Spot to fetch and was still clutching the racket when he boarded a Segway (search), a standup, motorized scooter that resembles a push lawnmower.
The Segway went down on Bush's first attempt, but he stayed on his feet with a flying leap over the machine. Undeterred, he got on again. His father climbed on a second Segway and they cruised around the driveway at the estate at Walker's Point.
The president's twins, Jenna and Barbara, and former first lady Barbara Bush all took turns on the Segways. Earlier Thursday, first lady Laura Bush, the twins and the former president took a cruise in a white powerboat.
The stay in Kennebunkport was only the most recent long weekend of relaxation Bush has taken since the Iraq war. He has had three long weekends at his Crawford, Texas, ranch since mid-April, and a month ago spent several nights at the New Mexico vacation home of friend Roland Betts.