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Creative Courtship on the Cheap: Summer offers a plethora of wallet-friendly and DIY date options 

There are great options for cheap dates in Central Oregon.

click to enlarge kite.jpg

Team Extreme

Options aplenty for you folks, as outdoor activities are what Bend (and its impossibly-fit lycra-clad residents) does best. Assuming you already have the necessary gear, go for a bike ride/run/climb/paddle/SUP together. And look, if you're still in the courtship phase, be considerate and don't drop your date. She or he won't be impressed by how fast or hard you can ride/run/climb/paddle - save the bravado for buddy-time.

Let's say you opt for a run. Incorporate "destination running" (run to a predetermined spot to eat, drink or just take in the view) into your date. A good option is an afternoon trail run that ends at the Taco Stand where you can get a rice, bean and cheese burrito (or, if super dorky and calorie conscious, sub fresh spinach for the cheese) for only $2.50.


Afterward, give the extreme shit a break, hop on your bikes and make for nearest park to try out your new homemade kite (the making of said kite - see sidebar - can be a date in itself. Bonus!). Kite flying is both relaxing and intimate, allowing both of you time to better get to know one another.

After exhausting the winds and your new creation, make a pedal-trip to the Grocery Outlet - seller of fine wines at basement prices (on 3rd St. and Wilson, and don't listen to the folks who refer to it as the "Gross Out," it's totally fine and full of great deals). Pour your new bottle of wine into a water vessel, throw it in your backpack (which should also contain a couple of glasses: mason jars are nice if you're careful, stainless steel cups are classy, plastic will do) and maybe a blanket and a couple of extra layers for when the sun gets low. Point your bike and lead your love-to-be toward one of the local buttes like Pilot or Overturf. Ride up, get settled and enjoy a romantic evening (and probably illegal due to your imported grape juice - be respectful, please) basking in the golden light of a Central Oregon late-summer afternoon while sipping your Oregon Pinot and discussing the latest in the ongoing Armstrong-doping saga. But hopefully, you and your date have something better to talk about, like your next kite.

Taco Stand Burrito: $2.50

Kite supplies: $8 (assuming you have a plastic bag,
tape, knife, scissors and some scrap cloth)

Wine from Grocery Outlet: $5

Total per-person cost: $15.50

Yuppies

Get your hands dirty together before getting polished for an evening on the town. Help maintain the Central Oregon trails you enjoy by volunteering through C.O.T.A. (Central Oregon Trail Alliance). Either jump in on one of the many organized work-party sessions or contact C.O.T.A directly to see what project is most pressing and can be tackled by individuals - check their website (cotamtb.com) for more information. Advantages of this outing include: learning if your date has ever wielded a shovel, getting some sunshine while giving back, working up a healthy appetite, plus - it's free!

After your afternoon of selfless community service (she'll be moved by your sensitive and thoughtful date suggestion) it'll be feeding time. If you're trying to save money, but you suck at cooking, check out the healthy, pre-made items at Devore's Good Food Store. Made predominately with organic, fresh ingredients, your options range from lasagna, to wraps, to pizzas, to salads (the beet salad and kale slaw are particularly delicious). Most offerings are $6 or less unless you get a plate of lasagna or large pizza which will run you a little more. Take home and enjoy, eat on their shaded porch, or grab supplies for a quick and easy picnic.Come early evening, head to the Blacksmith happy hour for dessert and drinks. And with specials running every day from 4:30-6:30 p.m., after 9 p.m. as well as all day Sunday and Monday. For dessert, check out the Farmer's Cheese Plate, which features cheeses from Tumalo Farms and isserved with candied almonds, apple chutney and toasted bread all for $9.95. Pair it with their happy-hour wine (red and white, both $5) and you have an inexpensive, yet classy night. On Friday and Saturday nights, stay for the DJs and dancing (no cover).

C.O.T.A volunteering: free

Devore's Good Food lunch stop: $6

Blacksmith happy-hour dessert and drinks: $15

Total per-person cost: $21

Tall-Can Crowd

Okay, geek-chic Hawthorne hipsters, with your neat nerd glasses, well-worn sweater, tats and meager bank account balance here's how to land that brilliant boy on the cheap.

You might know everything there is to know about the Fleet Foxes and coffee cupping, but how much do you know about the place where you live or are visiting? Exactly. The Des Chutes Historical Museum, housed in the historic Reid School, is rad and cheap. The school first opened in 1914 and was named after beloved school marm Ruth Reid (who served as a principal and later married H.J. Overturf, as in Overturf Butte - see? learning stuff already). Five bucks gets you a self-guided museum tour where you and yours can peruse artifacts and old photos of Central Oregon. Knowledge is hip. And sexy.

To get primed for your field trip, a caffeine trip may be in order, in which case we suggest Lone Pine Coffee Roasters. The cozy spot lacks the hectic nature of most area coffee joints and serves up tasty drinks at a competitive price, leaving you and your beau free to gaze into each others' eyes or at the art hanging on the wall. A frothy cappuccino will only set you back $2.75. Drink up there or get it to go and walk over to the museum on Idaho Ave., between Wall St. and Bond St.

No doubt thirsty after taking in all that the museum has to offer ("Whoa, a Holsman Car from 1907!), stroll (or pedal that fixie), down to Riverside Market which boasts a daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. All Boneyard beers are $3, as are glasses of wine, and food (if you're into that) is priced between $4-6. Alternatively, you could always go by the Boneyard tasting room to sample some beers for free (leave tips in the jar) and remember to come back on Wednesday for their awesome $6 growler fill. Plus, there's reasonably-priced food on site now, thanks to the PuPus Grill food cart, which pedals delicious Hawaiian-inspired dishes.

To keep your tall-can status, swing by Parrilla Grill or Longboard Louie's for $1 pounders of PBR or just cut out the middle man and pick up six from 7-11. Take him home to the porch to enjoy.

Lone Pine cappuccino: $2.75

Des Chutes Historical Museum: $5

Riverside Market happy-hour Boneyard beer: $3 (optional food: $5)

local PBR: $1

Total per-person cost: $11.75

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