Geoffrey Griffin is in the midst of a camping trip with his estranged wife Jean Griffin, and their children Randy, and Bob, at Yosemite National Park. His children and especially his wife are bored with the trip and uninterested in any family togetherness, despite his insistence. As the family is traveling back home, Griffin is driving the car while his wife and kids are being hauled in the camper behind him. He has a flashback (narrative) to a doctor's visit where he is told that he has an inoperable form of terminal illness melanoma and will soon die, which is assumed to have been the motivating factor behind his initiative to take the trip, which his family had talked about doing before he and his wife legal separation. After becoming increasingly frustrated at his family's apathy about the trip, their reviling attitude toward him, and their trivial demands such as that he stop to walk the dog, he detaches his car from the camper and drives away, deserting them.