President Barack Obama eased into the first day of his Hawaiian vacation Thursday, opting for privacy over publicity after wrapping up a frenzied lame-duck legislative session.

President Barack Obama eased into the first day of his Hawaiian vacation Thursday, opting for privacy over publicity after wrapping up a frenzied lame-duck legislative session.


The president began with what's become a familiar routine during his trips to Hawaii - a morning workout at a gym at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. He ducked into the gym without being spotted by cameras.


Obama had no public events scheduled during his 11-day vacation, and aides said he planned to spend much of his time at the luxurious oceanfront home his family was renting in Kailua.


"He is as much as anything anxious to spend time where he grew up with his family and to see his sister," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.


Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family live on Oahu. The president planned to visit with several childhood friends while on the island, and he was also being joined on vacation by Chicago friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker.


On the president's reading vacation reading list: "President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime," Lou Cannon's biography of the Republican president.


The president's vacation won't be all rest and relaxation. He was to be briefed by advisers daily, and he also planned to spend time working on his State of the Union address, scheduled in January, and reading a staff review compiled by interim chief of staff Pete Rouse.


Obama arrived here shortly before midnight Wednesday after having pushed back his scheduled Saturday departure to stay in Washington while lawmakers wrapped up their legislative session.


He began his vacation on a high note, having secured victories on a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and the repeal of the ban on openly gay service members. He also struck a deal with Republican lawmakers to allow tax cuts for all income earners to continue, a compromise that angered some liberals.


At a Washington news conference Wednesday, Obama said the accomplishments of a postelection session of Congress demonstrated "we are not doomed to endless gridlock." He described the six-week lame-duck session as "a season of progress for the American people."


The waning weeks of 2010 provided the president a much-needed boost following a volatile year and a self-proclaimed "shellacking" in the November midterm elections. Awaiting Obama in January: an economy still struggling to achieve steady growth, a Congress more laden with Republicans, and a host of GOP challengers poised to run for his job in 2012.