Annecy {France}

On February 15th, 2018, I flew to Switzerland to be picked up by my friend, Claire, whom I haven’t seen for about 2 1/2 years. Claire doesn’t live in Switzerland but she’s from a quaint little town in the French Alps called Annecy. To say that I LOVED Annecy would be an understatement. I could spend a year there doing photography and everything I ate was of the highest quality and left me speechless. SO THANKFUL to Claire for being the perfect host…I keep thinking that if I did this trip without her, I would’ve done a FRACTION of what we did together! This is the year when I’m making a decision to fill my eyes and heart with as many new places in the world as possible and I can’t thank Claire enough for giving me three new towns to tuck away in my heart from my quick trip to France! And on a random note, you know you had a solid vacation when you leave with adding to your YouTube playlist four new music artists: Lori McKenna, John Moreland, Jason Isbell, and Brandi Carlile. :) CLAIRE, you rock my world and I Love You!

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“And while she never felt quite normal, she was nowhere near crazy…choosing to see the world through her heart, instead of her eyes.”

*All photos are mine except for the ones with me in them; special thanks to Claire Richardson*

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

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

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

Toronto {Canada)

2018 is the year where I will go to as many new cities in the world as God will allow. First up, Toronto, Canada! And this is the CN Tower in the heart of the city.

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“Travel brings power and love back into your life. ” – Rumi

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPH