President Clinton kicked off his shoes and stretched his feet out on the table. “You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to let go,” he said en route to this scenic haven.
Determined to trade power struggles for hiking trails, the sweltering humidity of the nation’s capital for a cool, dry mountain valley, Clinton and his wife, Hillary, began a two-week vacation here Tuesday.
“I’m going to lie down, I’m tired,” Clinton answered initially when asked aboard Air Force One just how he planned to spend the time away from the office.
“We’re going to hike, ride horses, read,” he said later, upon reflection. “I’m going to play a little golf, but mostly just try to rest.”
The Clintons are making their vacation headquarters the Jackson Hole home of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., whose grandfather, John D. Rockefeller Jr., gave most of the land that now comprises Grand Teton National Park.
They will be joined on Friday by their 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, who is now in Alaska on what Hillary Clinton’s aides say is a nine-day adventure trip with family friends.
The Rockefeller house is located on a golf course, and some presidential aides speculated that the president’s favorite outdoor sport might just head the list of vacation activities.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Clinton also was very interested in visiting nearby Yellowstone National Park. Camping and rafting trips also could get on the first family’s agenda.
Clinton will celebrate his 49th birthday on Saturday. His new summer neighbors, many of them top corporate executives, were also waiting eagerly to offer their hospitality.
As he landed at Jackson Hole Airport, Clinton was greeted by about two dozen local residents and had his photo taken with most of them. He and Hillary Clinton then clambered into the van that serves as a presidential limo on vacation trips and drove to the Rockefeller home.
The majestic mountains surrounding their retreat this summer are a sharp contrast to the Clinton’s first two vacations at Martha’s Vineyard, the posh Massachusetts holiday island.
The president will be in Jackson Hole until the end of the month when he heads for Hawaii for ceremonies celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
McCurry said the president was taking very few staff members with him. Objecting to press accounts that have estimated Clinton’s entourage as high as 300 people, McCurry said there were about 75 security, communications and military personnel, about 70 members of the press corps, seven White House staff aides and six advance people.