I was discharged from the U.S. Navy in July of 1970. After picking up a new Toyota Land Cruiser for $4,100 (a deal made possible through a purchase program available only to returning troops), my wife and I drove coast to coast with our two month old son, Byron, in a crib that slid neatly between the two lengthwise bench seats in the back of the Cruiser. We spent a month visiting relatives and touring national parks. It was the kind of vacation you only attempt when you are young and slightly stupid. Fortunately, Byron was the kind of baby that lures you into having another — quiet, rarely crying and willing to sleep through the night in a tent and strange motels.
It was at Jenny Lake in Teton National Park that I first encountered the mechanized, American family expedition. A large GMC pickup with a camper shell, a motorbike hanging in a rack on the front bumper, a fishing boat with Evinrude motor secured upside down on top of the camper and towing a small Jeep, pulled in next to us with four squealing kids.