The Washington Times - January 2, 2009, 10:47AM

President-elect Barack Obama and his family arrived in Chicago early this morning after a nearly eight-hour flight from Hawaii.

Leaving vacation is usually hard for anybody, but imagine yourself as the president-elect, who has already bristled over the last several weeks and months as his world has progressively gotten smaller and the security apparatus and hype surrounding him has become more gargantuan.

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On his way out of a military gym Thursday following the last workout of his 12-day vacation, Obama stopped to greet a small crowd of well-wishers, something he did each time he left his workout sessions.

As he signed autographs and posed for pictures, one woman shouted out, “We love having you with us!” according to a pool report filed by a journalist at the scene.

Obama said, “I wish I could hang out with you, but I’ve got to go home.”

Truer words were likely never spoken. Obama played golf, took his kids to the zoo, hung out with his family and friends, and swam in the ocean during his time in Hawaii, where he grew up.

He left to return to cold and windy Chicago, and will then come this weekend, likely Sunday, to Washington, where he faces the prospect of leading the nation through one of its worst economic crises, two wars, the ongoing threat of international terrorism, an Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and simmering tensions in several other hot spots around the world.

Where would you rather be if you were Obama?