CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush (search) spent a down-to-earth Thanksgiving Day at his ranch eating leftovers and riding his mountain bike — a world away from Baghdad, his secret destination a year ago.
Bush also called members of the military stationed around the world, most of them deployed to the Middle East.
It was a dual celebration: His twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara (search), marked their 23rd birthdays on the family's ranch. Also at the home were Laura Bush and her mother, Jenna Welch, and the president's parents, former President Bush and Barbara Bush.
The family worked on leftovers from Wednesday's luncheon meeting with Spain's King Carlos (search) and Queen Sofia. That meal had a Thanksgiving theme, with free-range turkey and gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, bass caught at the ranch, stuffing, pan-roasted vegetables, pecan and pumpkin pies with ice cream. There was cake Thursday for the twins' birthdays.
Bush also rode his bicycle on the trails at the 1,600-acre ranch, and chopped cedar, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.
In the morning, the president called 10 members of the military representing all five branches of the service. "As the men and women of America's armed forces are sacrificing for the liberties we all enjoy, the president wanted to express his gratitude for their service and sacrifice, and to wish them a happy Thanksgiving," Buchan said.
Last Thanksgiving, Bush slipped away from the ranch to visit troops in Baghdad, leaving his family and most of his usual entourage behind. Mindful of that history, many aides and journalists anxiously awaited word of another secret trip this year, checking their pagers and cell phones often.