After the excesses of America, and heading round the vastness of Lake Michigan, I have been aiming to keep fit, and walk more.

In between hot dogs, pizza parlours, and glitzy bars, and that was just heading to the baseball, we did manage to fit in some healthy outdoor leisure activities. Some, but not a lot, as Paul Daniels might say!

However, one of the surprises of the States was indeed the great outdoors, and in terms of value for money, it certainly ticked all the boxes. I found during our travels that quite literally some of the best things in life are free, or at least, a very minimal charge!

I had never heard of The Sleeping Bear Dunes before, and I doubt that you have either.

The dunes are a short distance away from busy shopping town Traverse City, famous for its cherry trees, with shops offering all manner of cherry products from soda pop to milk chocolate covered delicacies, and there was plenty for you to sample. However, thermal gloves and a warm beanie hat was the order of the day.

Heading out to the dunes provided some remarkable and scenic walks, and as luck would have it, despite a chilly four degrees in mid May that morning, and cold grey skies more suited to a Scottish winter, the sun did put in a short cameo appearance during our walk to overlook the impressive coastline.

I was certainly very glad as with over 100,000 public votes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America.

A handy free newspaper publication provided some helpful hints and tips about what to do if you encountered grizzly bears.

However, I think the best advice came from friend Ale Nardini who advised that he hoped that I had packed my running shoes!

The impressive dunes were shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago, while the ranging terrain and ecology of the dune environment provided some ideal walking areas.

Thankfully Yogi and Boo-Boo didn’t put in an appearance, as the bracing temperatures kept Gentle Ben and friends at bay!

As a keen photographer, I happily snapped away with both my Nikon compact camera, and iPhone 5, and managed to capture some truly wonderous sights, some of which I managed to upload to Facebook to the proverbial ‘oohs and aahs’ of friends back home.

However, disaster struck the next day as I was left growling at a fault that had developed within my memory card of my camera, and all the photos I had taken had been wiped.

Fortunately, I had doubled up with my iPhone and had managed to take a fair selection which showcased the beauty of the Sleeping Bear dunes, and we even got to all roll down one of the dunes which was great fun at the time, although I was still clearing sand out of my shoes three days later!