FFormer president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura wave before departing the U.S. Capitol by helicopter after the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol January 20, 2009 in Washington. (UPI Photo/John Moore/Pool) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- George and Laura Bush said good-bye to Washington, the place they called home for eight years, and received a warm welcome back in Texas Tuesday.
About 3,000 people cheered the former president and first lady when they reached Waco about 7:30 p.m., the Waco Tribune reported. Bush waved out to the crowd with one arm and held his wife with the other.
Bush thanked the crowd and shook hands with some before boarding a helicopter for the final leg to the Bushes' Prairie Chapel Ranch at Crawford.
An even bigger crowd was on hand a bit earlier when the Bushes arrived in Midland, Texas, KVIA-TV reported. As many as 20,000 people gathered to catch a glimpse of Bush.
Earlier in the day, the Bushes and President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama exchanged hugs, handshakes and kisses as the former president prepared to board "Executive One" Marine helicopter. As he mounted the stairs, Bush turned, smiled and waved to the Obamas and others before walking into the aircraft.
The helicopter veered off-path for one more White House flyover en route to Andrews Air Force Base, where the Bushes boarded a jet no longer called Air Force One to return to Texas as private citizens for the first time in eight years.
Before returning to Texas, Bush met in the hangar with about 2,000 aides, supporters and their families, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Bush said he was "thankful, grateful and ... joyful" for the opportunity to be president but he was looking forward to being "citizen Bush," an aide attending the gathering told the Journal.
Obama's inauguration was "an inspiring moment" and Bush said he had "a front row to history."
Concerning his administration, Bush said "We did not shirk our duty. We led with conviction."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne left the Capitol in a motorcade to their new home in McLean, Va. Cheney was in a wheelchair on doctor's advice after he strained some muscles while loading moving boxes.