Vallorcine {France}

Without a doubt, the hike to Refuge de Loriaz in Vallorcine, France will be one of the highlights of my entire life. I crossed off snowshoeing for the first time on my bucket list and had an unforgettable adventure with my friend, Claire! The hike normally would’ve taken a little over two hours to get to the top, but since it was winter, and I like to stop and take pictures, I think it took us a little over 3 1/2 hours.
A COUPLE THINGS THAT STOOD OUT TO ME:
ONE: It’s been rainy and cloudy for the two days since I’ve been in France, so when my friend Claire kept looking for some kind of mountain in the distance as we were hiking, I had no idea what she was doing! She was so delighted at the end of our hike going up when she saw snippets of the top of a mountain, but it really didn’t sink into me how huge the mountains were and how thick those clouds must have been. The first three photos will give you a glimpse of the fog and clouds that enshrouded us most of the way up, and the first photo of me reveals the sun finally breaking through at the end of our hike showing more of the mountain that was there the whole time but I couldn’t see at all because of the thick clouds.
TWO: The Refuge de Loriaz was a welcoming sight especially because I was cold and exhausted, but the separated outhouse with a hole in the ground for a toilet and sleeping in the same room with four total strangers was too much for me and I couldn’t sleep. But the heat source in the simple cabin was so wonderful to my frozen hands and body, and honestly, the vegan pea soup, bread, and cheese were delicious and eaten with immense joy and gratitude.
THREE: We were outside at 7AM the next morning and what struck me was the CLEAR sky and the GIGANTIC mountain range that was there the whole time that I couldn’t truly see the day before! I actually think it was kinda neat that God gave me clouds and light rain as I arrived in France and then slowly pulling back the clouds to reveal the exceptional views of Mont Blanc. Just brilliant. Also, I thanked God the whole time going back down that the sun was finally out because my body was extra cold and I felt sluggish from lack of sleep. As much as I loved the experience, going down was harder for me and I was more than happy to take off the snowshoes. It took about the same amount of time getting down too. And notice how the sun brought warmth and clarity to the last half-dozen of photos.
FOUR: Would I do this again? Maybe. Would I do it without Claire? No. The hike was really tough and it is definitely NOT for the half-hearted. Adventure was calling me, and I got more than I asked for, but I feel like going to the Refuge de Loriaz is for those that don’t care about sleeping in a room with strangers and using an outhouse with a toilet in the ground…or for those that have no idea what’s going on and will be in for a nice little surprise…like me! :) Let’s put it this way, I learned that I’m not as tough as I thought I was and sleeping in the same room with a bunch of strangers was way too much for this extreme introvert! Claire, on the other hand, was a trooper and made the whole thing look like it was a walk in the park! Ugh.

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What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? – John Green

Thanks to the amazing Claire Richardson for photos 4,6, and 8.

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Megève {France}

Megève, France is a charming, stylish little village with the majestic Mont Blanc as a backdrop. I was there for about an hour after a brutal hike down from Refuge de Loriaz. I was so delirious that I thought it was okay to spend almost 50 euros for two hot drinks, two dainty cakes, and one passion macaroon. Was it worth it? Oh my goodness, YES!!!
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The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most. – J.Ruskin

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

M Y K H A

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!
I cried a lot today but it’s okay because not having you here on this earth to walk with me will forever leave a gaping hole in my heart. Thank you for giving life to me and being there for me in my happiest and darkest days. Thank you for giving everything when I didn’t deserve anything and showing me what it’s like to leave this world empty handed cuz you freakin’ gave everything away! Even in your death, you gave away your organs so others may live. Thank you for showing me how to live fully and boldly.

*Below are kind notes from some of you that I gathered days after my mom, Mykha Trinh, passed away on July 9th, 2017. Her death was sudden and I was unresponsive to so many that reached out. It’s hard to even apologize but I know the people who have gone through deep loss would know just how much it meant to my family and I that you were there for us and that you loved my mom so well. Some of you I’ve never met but it was the same that you comforted my heart and the hearts of my family. Taking me forever, but “THANK YOU” from the bottom of my heart!

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REBECCA GOLDMAN:
Dear Maria, I just heard. I love Mykha with all my heart, and I just want to say that I am sending you love and my heart is there with you and your family right now. Mykha felt to me like my grandmother too, as we grew up with her learning from her wisdom, strength, generosity and joy, and I miss her and will miss her every day. So much love to you.

KELLEY LOPER:
Peter told me about your mom and I just want to let you know how sorry I am. I’m thinking about all of you and sending my love. She was one of the most amazing, loving and wise women I ever met – in so many ways. I have such wonderful memories of spending time with her and how loving and generous she always was toward me and Zoe and Alex. We’re so sad and miss her terribly. Please pass on my thoughts to the whole family. And please take care.

NATE LARKIN:
It takes time to process the loss of someone you love without the standard archetype to place that person in your life – difficult to reconcile. Mykha was not my Grandma, she was not family, but her role in my life was profound. She showed me how to love life through Mykha’s lens – love was beauty, taste, intention, compassion, and it knew no bounds. At an early age she altered my perception of life, and I will forever be grateful for our relationship. It’s hard knowing I will never experience her love in a tangible way again, but she is apart of who I am and the way I interact with the world – which is the greatest gift she gave me.

CHRISTINE CAO HRYHORYSAK:
It makes me chuckle every time I see a picture of your mom in furs because I am reminded of the time I saw her at Jewel years ago. She was in her full length fur coat running about trying to get everything she needed before getting on the plane heading to Vietnam. I addressed her as “Bác” and she looked at me sideways and said to call her “Cô” instead because She did not want to feel old! Loved this funny lady!

SHAY HOLLAND:
Dear Maria, I heard about your mom’s passing from my mother. I wanted to let you know you’re in my prayers. I think I ate more of Mykha’s cooking over the years than I did of my own mother’s! Your mom was such a dynamic force and will be missed by so many. I pray your own heart will be filled with comfort and peace in the midst of your sorrow.

BREANNA PRICE:
My grandma, the most vibrant, loving, passionate, and sometimes sketchy person on the planet passed away and many many hearts are aching. It’s surreal. I thought she would outlive all of us because she was the strongest person I know. I can’t even begin to describe how much this hurts. To this day, she’s a staple in our community. She owned one of the most loved restaurants in Glen Ellyn for over 20 years. So many people adored her, even outside of the family. She was able to be at my wedding in December 2016, which brought all of us together with her for the last time, and for that I will never be more thankful. Her memorial will be held at the Danada Equestrian Center House in Wheaton, IL Wednesday, July 12th at 9AM for anymore that would like to pay their respects. I love you, Ngoai.

ALICIA MAE:
Feels appropriate that the sky would cry on the day we say goodbye to Mykha. Beautiful service. Beautiful memories. I will be forever thankful my life was one that intersected with hers. You will be so very missed Mykha!

CHLOE SAGUM:
I can’t believe you’re gone. Saying goodbye to you was a new pain that I had never felt before. The hardest part is knowing that my kids will never meet you. Ngoai, you brought life to everyone. You gave without thinking and loved without condition or expectation. You were so real with me. You were the strongest woman I know. I never knew the extent of what you went through for our family until the stories that were told yesterday… you lived your life so beautifully and had never once thought of yourself. The last time you spoke to me, in person, was at my wedding. I’m so grateful for that moment and will keep your words with me for the rest of my life. You loved all your grandchildren so much and it showed. “I love you more than the whole kingdom”, and I will always be your Toto.

LIZ CLARK SHAMBAUGH:
Hello my friend. Just checking in to see how you are doing. I had a dream last night and your mom brought me granny noodles and my favorite, egg rolls with shredded carrots and daikon, with a LOT of nuoc mam. Sounds like a dumb dream, but you know what I remember from it? That it made me happy. Your mom had a gift, that’s for sure, and it wasn’t just being an amazing chef. She had the gift of making people happy, and bringing them on culinary adventures (trust me, there would never have been a time in my life where I thought I would enjoy something with fish sauce…because no, just no!) Your mom is actually the only reason why I love Vietnamese food as much as I do. And not just the egg rolls, we go to the restaurant, and I would just tell her to surprise me, or I tell the waitress to tell Mykha to surprise me. And I was never disappointed. There are not many restaurants that I would trust the chef to do that. Anyway, sorry for the tangent, I hope you are doing okay, and if there’s anything you need at all please let me know. It’s a very hopeless time, you feel very lost, and maybe you feel like you should be doing things a different way or whatever, but just be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself, and accept help when it’s offered, if you need it. I really can’t stress that part enough. Sending prayers up for peace for you and your family, and I hope that the happy memories can carry you through this difficult time. It takes awhile, but the elephant sitting on your chest will get a little lighter week by week, month by month. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do, anything at all. Hugs, prayers, and love to you and yours. XO

SUE KRAL:
I met my friend, 37 years ago. She taught you life lessons every moment of her life. She was by far the greatest mother on this earth. My friend, my heart, I would not be half the person that I am today if not for you. You are forever part of me. It is obvious you are in so many people’s hearts.

ALLISON SANDBECK:
Mykha Trinh…you don’t realize the imprint someone has left till the hand has left your shoulder. You were a force, a mentor, a friend….love to you.

JESSICA FITZER:
Sweet, dear, loving Mykha Trinh. You loved me when I was a wandering, lost 19 year old with grace and compassion. You made me (and everyone you met) feel deeply loved and cared for. And now, 21 years later, I am can hear your voice and feel your hand on my arm as clear as ever. You made us all better. I am grateful beyond what I could imagine to have spent time with you!

MICHELLE THERESE ZICK:
My heart is grieving for your family. I wish that I could have been there today and celebrate her life with you all. She planted so many amazing things in my heart and life and called for the the gold in every person she met with the love of God. I am forever grateful for the gift of friendship and the love we shared. In everything I do, there is a part of MyKha’s heart that goes with it.

ELLIE HODKINSON:
Our hearts are heavy today, taking in this unexpected news of MyKha’s passing. My family was gifted with a wonderful friendship with MyKha starting in 1975, soon after she moved to the U.S. Deepest sympathies to her big, loving family and to everyone else who has known and loved this amazing lady. Also, wishes for many peaceful and comforting memories of MyKha’s generous and loving spirit, her easy and contagious laugh, her special love for little ones and her passion and talent for feeding people with food and with love. We will miss you so much MyKha!

DANIEL NEWGEN:Today I lost one of the most influential and most kind hearted person in my life. Mykha Trinh, you were the most loving and thoughtful person that I know thank you for giving me my name I will always love you Mykha more than the world.

BRENDA LANGSTRAAT-PALM:
A beautiful celebration of one of the brightest lights, Mykha Trinh. Through quick wit, constant action and the best cooking, she taught us that to empty ourselves for others is to truly love. She filled our bellies and souls. To open the door and walk up the ramp into Mykha’s…the smells and the love. It was MyKha AND the community that she brought us all into, she nurtured each of us as if we were family. One of the blessings of my life was to work at the restaurant. Of all the industry gigs I had, that was the best…to be a vehicle to deliver the best food from one of the finest artists. There was a rhythm to it. From the talks over ‘family’ dinner at the end of the night to the years after of walking in to catch up and then the love notes on Facebook, she was a source of joy and she was the definition of family. May we all love and work and create so generously and openly. Love you, sweet Mykha.

BLACKBERRY MARKET/GLEN ELLYN:
Sadly, we wanted to let those who didn’t know that the great Mykha Trinh passed away this week. Many of you will remember MyKha from her wonderful restaurant here in Glen Ellyn by the same name. What many of you may not know was that Mykha’s was our favorite place to dine in Glen Ellyn, not simply because of her creativity in the kitchen, but because of her care and attention she gave to us and anyone that walked through the door. As well, she was one of the trusted souls we consulted with before opening Blackberry and was certainly an inspiration for us opening here in town. We are thankful for her life and her contributions to this community. She was a generous and gracious woman that will certainly be missed.

KC/CEO GIFT OF HOPE:
It’s a real small world. We ate at Mykha’s all the time. I absolutely loved her duck. The veggies were incredible and always fresh. Every waiter you talked to had a great story and I always felt like we were sharing an intimate evening with friends when we’re there. I met her a few times but just as another impressed customer. She was an icon in Glen Ellyn. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize the name, but I don’t think I ever knew her last name. How cool she was a donor for us. Please tell her daughter that I’m so sorry for her loss and the world’s. They don’t make people like her mom too often.

M Y K H A   T R I N H
“Eat good food. Be happy. And smile.”
1946 – 2017
For a glimpse of what MYKHA stood for, CLICK HERE. Thanks endlessly to RULE29 for this INCREDIBLE GIFT!

The Morton Arboretum {Winter}

And everything in time and under Heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath

And still I notice You when branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

Every Season / Lyrics / Nichole Nordeman

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Right after a big snow storm. Sterling Pond at The Morton Arboretum.

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Montreal {Canada}

This is my first blog post for 2018 and it’s a personal one. Not sure what my photography will look like this year, but I’m intending to slow down and shoot more for my pleasure and travel to as many places in the WORLD as the Lord would allow. :) Took my first trip ever to Montreal with my girls, Breanna and Chloe, and it was beyond great! It was bitterly cold but we walked miles and miles and found places for the best croissants, coffee, hot chocolate…and most importantly, we ate at DA EMMA! Best restaurant ever! The best part  was that my girls INVITED ME to join them on their little adventure before baby Duke Sagum enters the world mid May! What mother would not have their heart exploded when their adult kids want them around? Thanks for the love and generosity, Brea and Chloe…it meant the world to me and these memories will stay in my heart forever!
P.S. This is also my first international trip since Budapest, Hungary in 2016 and I brought my Canon 5d Mark II and shot all these images with the 40mm 2.8 lens for safety and simplicity since we were on A LOT of ice most of the time. I improvised and it was a smart move. :)

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“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY