C. and I drove along backroads dotted with the occasional farm or cabin, many of them flying Trump 2020 flags alongside the Stars and Stripes. We stopped to visit a park in southeastern Ohio where the Midwestern flatness unexpectedly gives way to a network of underground rivers, grottos, and caves with names like Old Man’s Cave and the Devil’s Bathtub.

The parking lot was rammed with license plates from various states, and cars and trucks lined the grass along the road. Laughter, music, and family chatter in multiple languages drifted from the caves. People walked single-file through the rock formations and gorges, pausing to take pictures of everything and each other. Almost everybody wore a mask and remained evenly spaced. The effect was like a bizarre video game, a simulation of some other civilization.

It’s hard to describe the happy shock of seeing so many Americans of all kinds gathered together to admire their country’s geological features. All is not lost.