In what was likely a bittersweet moment, the White House cleared out its offices as the president and first lady planned their departure from Washington D.C., after eight years in the country's most prized residence.
President Bush prepared to dine together one last time in the White House tonight with wife Laura, twin daughters Jenna and Barbara, and parents, former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara.
President Bush held a farewell lunch for his staff Friday and made final calls to some world leaders before departing for Camp David with his wife, Laura. The two spent their last weekend as the first couple in the seclusion of "The Camp" as their staff collected their belongings and emptied their desks at the White House.
"It [Camp David] is a place that they have thoroughly enjoyed," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters last week. "They love having their family there, they've spent a lot of special moments there, and it's a good place to get away from Washington, D.C. ... He [Bush] loves to be able to go up there and he can ride his mountain bike as well, and just spend a little bit of quiet time."
On Sunday, Bush made more final phone calls, including to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak.
Bush spent Thursday visiting the State Department to thank the staff for their service, and appeared before the nation in his last televised address as president. He visited Wednesday with family members of military personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The White House slowly turned into a ghost town Friday as staffers packed up and bid goodbye to their posts. Only chief of staff Josh Bolten, counselor Ed Gillespie and Perino remained there during the weekend on standby.
After the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, the Bushes will fly out to Andrews Air Force base, where they plan to speak to more than 4,000 friends and supporters in a private event, after which they will fly to Crawford, Texas. Several longtime staffers, such as former adviser Karl Rove, Bolten and Joel Kaplan, deputy chief of staff for policy, are expected to accompany the Bushes to their home state.
In his 33rd and final prime-time address as president to the nation, delivered from the East Room of the White House to a live audience, Bush framed his presidency as one filled with challenges and accomplishments.
"There have been good days and tough days," the president said in a speech that was relatively devoid of emotion, compared to his other recent addresses. "But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people."
Bush spent much of his past few weeks in office defending his legacy and his administration's policies.
At his final news conference with White House correspondents Jan. 12, Bush admitted he made some mistakes but said he did what he believed was necessary to strengthen the economy and protect the United States.
"I don't see how I can get back home in Texas and look in the mirror and be proud of what I see if I allowed the loud voices, the loud critics, to prevent me from doing what I thought was necessary to protect this country," he told reporters.