Here's what makes the perfect trip: family, friends, relaxation, great food/drink and outstanding weather.

While my five-day trip did take me away from my daughter and wife much longer than I would've liked, it did provide the other four elements and added a private beach and relatively inexpensive getaway.

First, I'd like to thank the Veasy family in Alpena, MI for being the most hospitable hosts! They opened up their beach/home to their son's friends from Dubuque, IA and fed us great food including a seafood boil (top 5 meals of my life), provided the best independent fireworks display I've ever seen and were absolutely a pleasure to be around.

There are simply too many stories to put them all into one blog post. Tomorrow I will begin with the journey to Aplena, MI.

I hope that your 4th was great wherever you spent the holiday and check back tomorrow for the first of three blog posts detailing an amazing weekend that included meeting the longest tenured bartender in the world, not being allowed to board a ferry ride across Lake Michigan and a buddy going from bar patron to host to putting the moves on a girl all within a matter of hours.

It will be a fun read and, at times, barely suitable for work.