This is what happens when I go on road trips. I got a chance to meet Ben Carson at one of his campaign stops while driving through Iowa recently
By Aaron Hanania
Road trips are great ways to unite with family and have fun for a few days. For me, it is not only the family aspect I like but the unexpected aspects that I strive for. The only item I go out of my way to pack on a road trip is a baseball and blue pen. Not only for road trips, but for vacations too. You never know who you will meet, so I always plan to use my baseball even if it returns home unsigned.
Over the summer, my mom and I took a four day road trip to Des Moines, Iowa. We stopped at various places along the way including the shop from the TV show American Pickers. Sadly they were not at the shop when we stopped there, so one of the baseballs I brought with came home unused. Strike one.
We also stopped at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. I really enjoy visiting museums and to learn about history whenever I can. The other cool thing about President Hoover’s museum is that on the property was his two-room birth home, and, sadly, where he is buried next to his wife. I would definitely recommend stopping there with your family to learn about his administration as President of the United States.
We continued down the road and stopped at a few other museums. The first night we stayed in Iowa City. It is a college town, so it is very active and modern. We stopped at the old capital and the car museum, which smelled like old cars. The museum was so cool and they had some rare cars that I have never seen before. The Old Capital building was entirely restored, which made it so much more interesting. I felt like I was in the 1900’s. We then drove to Des Moines and stayed the night about 15 minutes outside of the downtown.
On the third day, we knocked out the Modern Art Museum. I thought that it was just paintings and art like that, but it turned out it was contemporary art, too, which is not my favorite, just because most of the time the older art has a lot more history than the newer pieces.
After the art museum, we went to the Governor’s Mansion. It was beautiful because when you walk in, it is like a manor from the 1800’s. The dark wood, red rugs, and expensive furniture are all so amazing. The other cool part was that the house’s architect, William Boyington, was also the architect of many buildings in Chicago, including the famous Chicago Water Tower.
In the house, there was a huge stained glass window that is original to the house and is still in mint condition. When we were first entering the house, a black car with a police officer driving drove into a blocked off garage. The tour guide said that the governor was likely in the car, and that there is an underground entrance that he can go through. Strike two.
The coolest museum we went to was the Capital building. It was huge and there was a glass floor that was nearly impossible to build. We got to see the lawyers library that was 10 floors high. It looked like a scene from harry potter, it was that big. Then we got to see the senate and congress and their mural ceilings. At the end the tour, the guide said that we could go up 408 stairs high into the dome. Since I am not fond of heights, and just looking down from the second level scared me, I did not go up. Plus there is a visual deception in domed buildings and it looks higher than it really is, which can make it look like 100 feet, when it is only 40. The people were like little elves waving looking down.
I bet the view was cool though, but that is what the Internet is for.
The next day after visiting a bunch of museums, we decided to find a hotel in downtown Des Moines. This is where the story picks up. After running to the car 3 times to get various objects, I finally got to sit down. I was looking out our window and seeing more and more people gather on this bridge, that was closed off from cars. I asked my mom if we can go see what was happening there.
I was thinking it was a carnival or festival of some sort. I left the baseball sitting in our hotel room. It was a mistake I sincerely regret. As we were walking towards the bridge, I saw this huge coach bus. On the side of it was a huge picture of an African American man. Next to his face, it said Carson.
Who is this Ben Carson, is what I asked myself at the time? My mom told me that he was a presidential candidate who is also a neurosurgeon. He was doing a speech on the stages about his life. We decided to listen and take photos. There were people handing out “Ben Carson for President” bumper stickers. So in true Aaron fashion, I got one for myself. He then said, “I will be back at 6:45 for another speech, Thanks guys.” The band started to play and Carson walked off the stage. I was fixated on getting an autograph. I was confused because I did not have a pen, so how would he sign?
I just started asking strangers, “Sir, do you have a pen I can borrow?”
No luck. After a few times the police officer who was protecting Carson gave me a pen. Then a stranger pushed me right in front of Ben Carson.
I said, “Dr. Carson can I please have your autograph?”
He replied, “Sure no problem.”
Remember, there were literally no less than 50 people surrounding him and shoving things in his face to get signed. I can see why there was a lot of police. So I struck out three times on the same trip, but I was not done yet. We waited when he did interviews on his bus. He came out and got on stage for like 15 minutes and talked. He was not loud, but he was intelligent and said things that made him look good and probably would make people like him. My mom pointed at a lady standing near his bus, telling me that she was his wife. We went over and I asked for a picture. She not only had me stand there, but asked a passerby to take a photo of the three of us. It was so nice of her to do that.
When Ben Carson came off the stage, I ran over to him and tried to get close to him. When I did, my mom took a few pictures that are now really cool, because he is doing so good in the polls.
I went home with a few Ben Carson stickers I found on the ground and my autographed Ben Carson bumper sticker.
Not too shabby for a run in with a celebrity that I had not seen coming.