Moms worry; it's what they do.
Ever since moving to North Carolina immediately after getting married, my mom would make a habit of calling us from her home in New Jersey "to make sure everything's all right" if there was anything concerning NC on the news. Tornados near the Tennessee border, forest fire outside of Charlotte, shark attack off Nag's Head? It didn't matter -- she'd call. And don't get me started on hurricane season.
So now we're out in Washington, and we've been here for four years. During that time, we've had a couple pretty bad storms, Mount St. Helens started acting up again, and there's been a number of forest fires and other newsworthy things. Fortunately, no earthquakes yet.
When a mother and daughter were killed while hiking two weeks ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before my mom would call to see if that's were we go hiking. It didn't help that the National Forest where the murders took place was the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest. And I live in the town of Snoqualmie, which unbeknownst to my mother has nothing to do with the forest, nor is anywhere near where the murders took pace.
So yesterday the phone rings:
"I was watching Geraldo (Seriously, i wish I was making this up) and he said that there were hikers killed in Snoqualmie."
I tell her no, and that what Geraldo may have said was that the hikers were killed in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, about 90 minutes from our house. And, in an attempt to put it in terms she can understand, I tell her forest is roughly the size of New Jersey and surely someone in NJ gets killed every day and there's no reason to worry.
"Ohhhh.... (she turns and yells to my step-father how big the forest is without taking the phone from her mouth -- ears continue to ring as I write this) but I don't like this isolation stuff you guys do. Is this where you go hiking and mountain biking. I don't want Kristin doing that where there are killers. Geraldo said another woman was murdered while hiking in Oregon."
I tell her that we go hiking and biking all over the state and that these women may have been killed by someone they knew, or perhaps by some psychopath sitting at the trailhead waiting for a victim to come along. That she only hears about it because it's rare and sensationalized -- really mom, Geraldo? I try explaining to her that the wilderness is a lot safer than towns and highways and blah, blah, blah, but I'm not really sure she believes me.
So I hung up the phone and started wondering just how big that National Forest is. Is it the size of NJ like I said?
Not exactly. NJ is roughly 5.6 million acres and the Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF is 1.7 million acres. So I exaggerated a bit it turns out. The forest is bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island though by a considerably margin. So at least it's up there in size with the colonies.