By Tom Ehrich

SAN MATEO, CA -- Just five weeks after completing my 4,100-mile pilgrimage-by-car from San Mateo to New York, I find myself back in this lovely town in Silicon Valley visiting our son and his family live.

This time, I traveled 35,000 feet above the highways and towns of America. We got here efficiently and inexpensively. But I missed the rituals of long-distance driving. I hope to take the journey again soon, this time in warmer weather and following a northern route.

As you probably gleaned from my road trip writing, I am perplexed at the state of my homeland. On the coasts, things, on balance, seem healthy. People have jobs, attitudes are open and optimistic. Away from the coasts, I heard so much anger and hatred, much of it stirred up by Christian preachers. I heard despair and disdain.

I can see why young adults gravitate to the coasts, even though housing costs there are beyond outrageous. Who wants to start a career, launch a marriage, raise a family, and put down roots in areas filled with bigotry and economic uncertainty?

I know for a fact that there is plenty of life and opportunity in the heartland, as well as wonderful people. But, for now at least, the atmospherics present as negative.

For the next ten days, I plan to hunker down in the family life of my middle son, his wonderful wife and non-stop 16-month-old son. It's fun sitting on the sideline as they do the morning off-to-work, off-to-school scrum. I like their loving interactions.

I have great confidence in all three of our sons and their families. Crazy though the age might be, they seem level-headed and open-minded. I'm sure they aren't the only ones. Maybe that is the key: despite alarming atmospherics, good people are doing good things and raising good families. We just need to see them and encourage them.

The bigots can only win if we doubt goodness and turn fearful and inward.