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Obamas on a boat President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughter Sasha tour St. Andrews Bay on August 15, 2010, in Panama City Beach, Florida. (Photo: Mark Wallheiser/SIPA/NewsCom)

Obamas Take Gulf Vacation

First family plays mini golf and makes friends with a porpoise on a trip to the Gulf Coast

By Laura Leigh Davidson | null null , null

What do you do on a vacation to the beach? Take a boat ride? Spot a porpoise? Get in a couple of rounds of mini golf or ride the ocean waves?

President Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, their 9-year-old daughter, Sasha, and dog, Bo, did all that and more over the weekend in Panama City, Florida. (Twelve-year-old Malia is away at summer camp.)

Sasha apparently has a knack for mini golf, as her first shot was a clear hole-in-one.

Panama City is on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Florida beaches did have some tar balls and blotches of oil wash up on their shores over the summer. But they have not suffered the oil-covered beaches and injured wildlife seen in other Gulf states. Still, its main industry—tourism—has seen a downturn all the same.

The purpose of the President's vacation wasn't just to swim in the warm Florida waters; it was to make a clear statement that "beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, they are safe, and they are open for business."

To prove his point, Dad and Sasha took a dip in the once-oiled ocean, signaling that the water was just fine.

After having some vacation fun in Panama City, the President and First Lady talked with local business owners about how the oil spill has caused a drop in tourism this summer, and what BP and the U.S. government are doing to help.

Oil has not been flowing into Gulf waters since mid-July. A tight-fitting cap was affixed to the leaking end of the damaged well as work on more permanent measures to seal the well continued.

Engineers hope the destroyed well will be sealed off for good within a couple of weeks.

President Obama made clear that the cleanup of areas affected by the spill would continue long after the well is sealed. ". . . oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf," he told local business owners and reporters. "But I'm here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is."

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