The First Family is taking a vacation before their vacation.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday the president, First Lady Michelle and the kids are heading west on Aug. 14 for a long weekend to visit Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National parks.
Just days later, the First Family travels to Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.
Mrs. Obama and her daughters have already made two overseas trips this summer. Gibbs talked about the westward swing - intended to highlight the national parks - at his briefing, where he offered up Obama's week ahead.
On Sunday the president flies to Guadalajara, Mexico, to attend the North American Leaders summit. Tuesday, Obama touches down in Portsmouth, N.H.- an area where he spent a lot of time in advance of the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary in 2008 - for a town hall on health care reform. Obama hosts a reception Aug.12 for his new Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.
On Friday, Aug. 14, the First Family will visit the Bozeman, Mont., area. On Aug. 15 they will travel to Yellowstone, Wyo., and Grand Junction, Colo. They will then travel to the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, Ariz., on Aug. 16, and return to Washington, D.C., on Monday, Aug. 17. The First Family's visit to the national parks occurs during a free weekend for our national parks.
Obama has been to the parks before, Gibbs said. "I know he's been to Yellowstone, because he tells a story of coming to visit his grandparents that I believe includes both stops at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, coming from Hawaii."
I just don't know if Mrs. Obama has been to these parks. I e-mailed a query to the East Wing and haven't heard back yet.
Gibbs said Obama was taking the trip "partly to highlight our national park system, to highlight the weekend, where we hope millions of Americans will enjoy the national park system. And there will also be events in addition to some of the stops."
The White House in July confirmed what had been known for months, that the Obama family will vacation at Martha's Vineyard in August. The president arrives on Aug. 23 and stays through Aug. 30. Mrs. Obama and the kids will probably go up earlier.
The traveling White House press corps descending on Martha's Vineyard will be housed in a press center in the town of Oak Bluffs.