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  • Writer's pictureJessy Raspiller

{2020} Wild Diaries :: Day 9

If your mom ever told you not to talk to strangers… I’m going to ask you to throw this ideology out the window right now!! Some of the most important turns I've made in my recent life have come into play because I asked a perfectly good stranger a perfectly random question.

I’m typing to you from one of those strangers balcony outside of Zion National Park. Today, as I took off from my little corner of the world (aka Idaho) I sent a text that an old me would have never sent. I would have been too nervous to impose or would have felt like I was over stepping social boundaries. But before I share, let me give you the background story.


In 2018 I left Idaho, dropped my friends off in Salt Lake City airport, and spent a few days catching up with my aunt and uncle. As I left SLC I found myself driving south on this very strip of Highway. Months before I took off, fate would intervene and sign me up for a women’s retreat in southern Utah. However as my journey progressed, I began finding every reason in the world to skip this retreat. I did everything short of forfeiting the money I’d invested, trying to get out of this retreat. After I was denied a refund, as much as I thought I was supposed to drive to Moab next, I decided I was being Divinely forced to stick to these previously made plans. So alas I drove south, onto some dirt road in hot, Souther Utah, that pulled me up to a home that seemed like it wasn’t even on a map. I had no option but to surrender to whatever the next 4 days held for me.

As I parked next to an over grown Juniper brush and got out of my car, I heard the chatter of the other women that had arrived before me. I suppose part of me felt nervous to be around a large group of people, knowing that I was on this trip to isolate and go inward. I began to walk towards the residence, but before I could get there a women stopped me with a smile as she setup a tent. I too had chosen to tent camp as my lodging option over the indoor accommodations. Upon chatting we realized we both had oversized tents meant to house multiple people. She asked if I’d rather hold off pitching my tent and just “bunk” with her. A softness swept over me, as I helped Arika, finish setting up our new home. Suddenly I realized that I was indeed exactly where I was meant to be.

The next four days of this women’s Goddess retreat would expose everything that I needed to look at. It opened me up raw and made me look at my feminine nature in away that I’d never been invited to. On the last full day of the retreat, my new tent mate, granted me a special morning. We woke up at sunrise to play in the red clay dirt and Juniper forest. I threw on a white dress and danced in the golden light. My very essence I'd just discovered, was performing for her camera lens. Frame by frame, she captured this richness that this retreat had drawn out of me. A surreal moment that I will forever cherish. I cherish being able to look back on a snapshot of the truth of who I was becoming.

This was just the beginning of letting go of what I thought I was supposed to BE and stepping into the truth of who I’d always been… living life by my rules.

Fast forward to today, I find myself sitting on the balcony of what was once a stranger and now is part of my greater expansion of sisterhood. As I left Idaho this morning I had no idea where I was going. As I mentioned previously, SLC wasn’t a stop this year as my family was deep in Quarantine. So as I let my inner guide take over I knew it was once again southern Utah drawing me inward. Or as it would turn out I was calling.


As I got back into service, I pulled off at a gas station. Arika and I have kept in touch via social media over the years, but haven’t gotten together since our meet cute moment outside of her tent two years ago. Yet I felt this longing to see her, to connect with her. I nonchalantly sent her a message inquiring about any special places that should would recommend to book around her, in hopes she’d be free for coffee and a hike the next day. She immediately sent me a text back and said I’d be staying with her and she’d leave a key under her mat and meet me back at her place after her evening photo shoot.

I was floored by the invitation. Part of me hesitate to accept. I didn’t want to place any burden with my last minute visit, and I even questioned if I’d go as far as to extend the same invitation as someone in her shoes. I realized as that last question rolled through my mind that, even if in the past I’d stayed closed off, that indeed this evolving version of my True Self would embrace a soul sister into my home.

As an individual that totes the label of being perpetually shy when I’m out of my comfort zone, these journeys have pressured that label. I’ve been fortunate to meet people from all around the world, just a few thousand miles from my home. People that even if I never meet again will continue to have an impact on my life. There are so many stories, but some of the strangers that I’d like to thank whom will never read this are:

  • The women I met on a trail in Moab that let me hike with her dog the day I was so homesick. She would later be the catalyst to land me in Telluride. Thank You.

  • The man that I met at a yoga studio in San Francisco, who would see right through my BS and crack me open. Two years later you're my teacher, my mentor, my family. Thank You!

  • The couple that shared a piece of pie with me at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I wanted to cry that night knowing I’d be sleeping in a soggy tent I’d setup in a thunderstorm. But your stories of courage made me remember that I’m stronger than I think I am. Thank You.

  • The friends that I passed a bottle of whiskey around the campfire we shared north of Yellowstone… you all made me fall in love with Yellowstone 12 hours before I realized I had. Thank You.

  • The couple that were my camp hosts in Telluride. I only knew you for 3 days but we all cried when I departed, knowing we’d shared stories of our adventures that would forever inspire one another. Thank You.

  • My Air BnB hosts that welcomed me into your meditation circle one lonely Sunday night. I may have been the youngest person there by 3 decades but you opened your home, your pantry and your hearts with me. Thank You.

  • The women in Casper who I met at a brewery barstool. You had escaped the same hail storm that we laughed about later that day. Thanks for sharing your secret dive spots in the Florida Keyes... may we meet on another barstool in tropical climate someday!

  • The barista in Twin Falls that was the catalyst for my recent adventure that enhanced my inner awareness. Thank you.

  • The women at the hot springs who was slightly intoxicated and meant to overshare about the local Wolves… thank you for inspiring me to fall in love with these creatures and their stories.

  • To the camp ranger that consoled me when I couldn’t get a designated campground, but told me to drive up the road to an unmarked road that would lead me to the most magical off the mat camp spot I’d ever slept in. Thank You.

  • To all the other individuals that gave me clues to the treasure map I’ve been following. There are too many of you to thank individually. But thank you for being my messenger.


As an extroverted introvert, I beg of you to get out of your comfort zone, your label of being shy and talk to someone on the street corner. Even if it's in your hometown. When you feel that urge of someone drawing you in, lean into it and open yourself up. The vulnerability I’ve experienced by sharing a small piece of myself with a stranger has led me further into my Inner awareness, than any thing I could have discovered on my own.

Lastly thank you to Arika. Thank you for sharing your family with me, your bed, the cutest coffee shop that had an epic river swing hidden behind it. Thank you for reminding me to open myself up to the magic of asking what I feel drawn to ask. And once again thank you for "seeing me" all those years ago, before I could see that women you captured.

If you're planning a trip in the Zion area, reach out to Arika. Here blog and Instagram have some of the best trails and adventure spots in the area. She's also ready to capture your next adventure or a sweet moment of you and your family. IG: @zionadventurephotog

Here's a couple of sweet moments of our adventures together:

Life is a beautiful journey. I hope you Venture Well.

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