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Excerpt from $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget by Heather Larson, David and Claudia Arp

Take a Hike (Together)

Great Date: If you’re looking for a date that is good for your relationship and your health, this is it. Some of us (like me, Dave) like to relax by doing something constructive—my personal favorite is splitting logs. Others (like Claudia) like to relax and de-stress by talking. This date meets both of our needs. It’s amazing how easy it is to talk to each other when you’re out in nature.

The Idea: Pack your backpack and take a hike. For a really great hike (and if you’re in good condition), consider an all-day hike. We love to hike along the Potomac River, and each year try to do a seven-mile hike that takes us up and down a rugged path with scenery that is simply amazing. Definitely worth it! Wherever you hike, get ready for some good exercise and conversation.

Before Your Date: Research hiking trails near you. Most hiking guides will give helpful details, such as distance, difficulty, and other unique features of the hike. You can also find helpful information on the Internet.

Plan your course, and if available, print out a map.

Take plenty of water and a couple of apples for an after-noon snack. Energy bars and nuts are also great hiking snacks.

Pack your camera or smartphone.

Bring and use sunscreen and bug spray if needed.

On Your Date - Stay on the path.

If you accidentally get on a path that is too difficult to na-vigate, be willing to turn around. (Claudia knows how I hate to turn around and retrace my steps, but some-times it’s the only thing to do!)

If you have trekking poles, use them as needed.

On narrow paths, take turns leading.

It can be fun to use a walking app. We highly recommend the Walkmeter app, which costs about $5 (which leaves 5 bucks for snacks). It shows us everything we need to track our walk: maps, graphs, statistics, speed, and terrain. It also helps us find our way back if we get off the path. It was rated the best health care and fitness application (Appy Awards). You can search the web for walking apps and find one that is just right for you.

Take along a pen and a couple of index cards to make notes. Hiking is our best brainstorming time.

Talking Points:

What are some of your favorite ways to relax and de-stress?
If you made a map of your marriage journey so far, what would it look like?
What were some of your mountain highs or valley lows?
When was a time you needed to make a U-turn?
How open are you to exploring new paths together?
Where would you like to hike in the future? What is your dream hike?

Great Date Takeaway: Taking the time to walk together encourages a new ap-preciation of nature and the wonderful world that God created. Looking back at your marriage, marvel at where you’ve come from in your relationship and look forward to where you are going in the future.

Couple at Beach / Flickr / Aarmono

Fun in the Water

Great Date: Heather and I (Peter) grew up in Minnesota, also known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so we tend to think there are countless ways to have fun in, on, or around the water. On this date, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the water as you boost the fun level in your relationship.

The Idea: The options for this date will be influenced by where you live and your readiness for adventure, but the common theme is water! Whether you want to go swimming or canoeing, or just sit on the shore and enjoy the view, being in and around water is fun and often free. Think about the last time you sat by a public pool. If there were any children in the pool, you may have noticed their inexhaustible energy for swimming and playing in the water. When was the last time you went swimming or fishing, or paddled a canoe? Remember what it felt like to do a cannonball off the diving board? Perhaps you have fond memories of wading in the water and collecting shells. Maybe you know how to surf, snorkel, or sail, and it’s time to dust off that old equipment and use it. It doesn’t matter if you live near the ocean, a lake, a river, or a pool; it’s time to get in touch with that inner child and have some inexpensive fun together.

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