Need a good walk?  Or just like wide expanses of beautiful scenery + eating?  Time for a picnic at Iona Beach!

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Somehow, I never managed to get out to this park during 365, which is crazy, because it’s a true gem.  There’s plenty of beach (sometimes tons of it, when the tide is out), birds everywhere, and a four kilometer-long jetty on which to cycle or walk.

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My friend Sally and her dog Francie, an eight month-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, joined me for a picnic dinner there last week. Yup, she’s pretty adorable.

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Before we drove out to the beach, we visited Osaka Market in Yaohan Centre, a one-stop shop for picnicking essentials, and just about everything else you could possibly desire.

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Along the south end of the store, there’s counter after counter of takeout food, and we walked its length at least three times before deciding on our dinner.

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There’s sushi; Vietnamese food; small packages of fish roe, sesame dried fish, tripe, seaweed, and tamago; pan-fried dumplings and donuts; a congee bar;

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steamed buns;

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hot entrees; salads; rice rolls; drinks; and much more.

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All of these, plus aisles of other snacks, a bakery (with desserts for days),

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and an enormous produce section.  We decided on a package of sushi, inari avocado rolls, spicy bean curd and cucumber salad, a sticky red and white rice roll, salty deep-fried broad beans, an HK milk tea, and a mango tapioca pudding.

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These Panda Pocky sticks were also purchased, because why go with regular when there’s one with a panda on the package.

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We decided not to bring along these “OhYES choco cakes,” but we sure were tempted.  It truly is the most apt name – who has ever said “Oh No” to chocolate cake?

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After our visit to Osaka, we drove out to Iona, which is located just north of YVR.

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I brought along a glamorous old sheet to use as our blanket, and we setup our haul on the sand, with steely grey driftwood as our backrest.

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Picnicking is one of my favourite things in the world – what more could you want than good food eaten in fresh air?  Add a view of the ocean and mountains, and it’s west coast living at its finest.

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All the food was great – I was particularly enamoured with the mango tapioca pudding, an inexpensive and easy dessert-to-go.

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I was also happy to be snacking once again on the sticky red and white rice roll, which was one of my favourite new foods during 365.  After we’d had our fill, we packed up and headed to the jetty, which stretched right out into the sunset.  It’s a remarkable walk, with water on both sides, and planes descending into YVR overhead.

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Now that I’ve seen it for myself, I know there are many more Iona visits in my future, and can’t recommend it enough to others who have yet to explore it, too.  Preferably with a really awesome pup.

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