Hello from Hogan Holler: Family and Friends


The door to the outside world slowly opened. Thunder still rumbled, but the skies were clearing. Unless the storm reverses course, the worst is over, and it’s safe to venture forth.

Churches and restaurants, movie theaters and amusement parks, planes and trains beckon.

Family and friends. Beautiful, comforting words. As COVID restrictions are lifted, our opportunities to again visit with, laugh with, cry with – and, yes, sometimes argue with – family and friends are the most precious of our reconnections.

Tennessee brother, Jim, and Florida daughter, Gina, have already been here. Massachusetts daughter, Jennifer, and granddaughter, Sarah, are on the way!

It was the first time Jim and I had spent time together since we lost our younger brother, Roy, to the COVID demon and not long after we’d lost our baby sister, Mary Lee, to anorexia. The two youngest of the six siblings; Roy, the brains of the family. Mary Lee, the beauty.

Lots of reflective conversation. What if Roy had gone to the doctor earlier? Why didn’t we notice Mary Lee missing church so often? The hospital sent Roy home too early. We should’ve realized Mary Lee was losing too much weight.

Finally, the Lovely Margo echoed something similar to what many of us heard from our mothers and grandmothers: “Why don’t you boys get out of the house and go stir around awhile.” And we did.

I told him about the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley and that Jay Leno visits there when he entertains at Harrah’s in Cherokee. “Want to go there and stir a bit?” Jim was all in.

I, not having a history with what Mom called motorsickles, grabbed a Rick Bragg collection of short stories, figuring I’d end up finding a place to light and read, while brother looked at motorcycles. Wrong!

HOLY HARLEY! This is one of the most fascinating places I’ve seen anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Almost 40,000 square feet featuring collections of vintage American transportation – not only motorcycles but also rare automobiles. The displays of artwork, photographs, and memorabilia related to transportation are also impressive.

I regularly see Washington County, Tennessee, vehicles here in these parts. So, I know many of you do day trips or vacation on this side of the mountains. And some of you come over and drop coin at the casino in Cherokee. (Yes, I know who many of you are!)

Whether or not you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, you’ll marvel at what you see at the Wheels Through Time Museum. And no need to bring a book.

During Gina’s visit, since she misses the mountains where she was born and raised, we chose to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

We’ve both taken an interest in fire towers and waterfalls. We spent a gorgeous spring day on the Blue Ridge Parkway which afforded us an opportunity to hike to the Fryingpan Lookout Tower. Our mountaintops are dotted with towers that were originally manned to spot forest fires. No longer needed for that purpose, many have been renovated and provide unforgettable mountain views. Looking south from Fryingpan, we drank in a goodly portion of Upstate South Carolina and to the north we could see the Unaka Mountain range in East Tennessee.

We spent one full day on the Cherokee Indian Reservation which included short hikes to two waterfalls. (No casino visit!)

On many fishing and camping trips to Cherokee, I’d seen the Mingo Falls sign but had never stopped. Going forward, it will be difficult NOT to stop. At 120 feet, these falls are a must-see for any waterfall enthusiast.

We also took in Soco Falls just across Soco Gap from Maggie Valley. While not as spectacular as Mingo Falls, Soco Falls is unique in that it’s a beautiful double waterfall.

We plan to continue our pursuit of waterfalls and fire towers on Gina’s autumn visit. On our list are Pinnacle Tower on Buffalo Mountain and Laurel Falls in Carter County.

Family and friends. Welcome back. We’ve missed you.

After 57 years in the radio industry, Dave Hogan is enjoying his retirement in North Carolina. He’d love for you to say ‘howdy’ to him via email davealtonhogan@gmail.com.


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