The first truck show I ever went to was the Walcott Truckers Jamboree in 1990. It was at that show I met my dear friend Bette Garber. Over the years, I’ve met many friends at this show. In 2015, our friend Darian Stephens told John Jaikes to look up Heather Hogeland and I under the food tent. John asked if he could join us, and we didn’t know it at the time, but it would be a meeting that would change both our lives forever and grow into a very special love story – trucker’s style!
The Iowa 80 Truck Stop and the Truckers Jamboree are both special to us. Back in the day, Bette would take you “up on the hill” (to take pictures) when you had “made it” in her eyes. In 2015, when I saw John’s truck and trailer by itself after most of the trucks had pulled out, I asked him if I could take him “up on the hill” Sunday morning. He agreed. To make it even more special, I was shooting with Bette’s old camera that year, and I took the picture that would eventually be used for John’s CAT Scale card. The flag over by the museum was flying, and I successfully made his stack the flagpole, in the shot.
I didn’t know at the time how much that flag means to John, or that he had served in the United States Air Force for eight years. Thank you for your service, John. After the shoot, we exchanged phone numbers and talked and talked and talked. In Marianna, FL that winter, we were able to meet up and have lunch. After he worked on my truck a little bit and we had lunch, he asked me if I would date him, and he will never let me live down my answer – “I don’t think so.” But he persisted. We kept talking and saw each other at the Jamboree in 2016 but were still just friends. In September of that year, his determination to date me paid off. I jokingly say, “He wore me down,” but in reality, he showed me how much he loved me, and we started down the road that we knew would one day lead to marriage.
It’s not easy being a couple on the road, in separate trucks, but it can be done. We both understand the lifestyle of being over the road drivers. When we got together, John told me, “You are not going to exist, you are going to live,” and I am definitely living and smiling more than ever before in my life, thanks to John’s infectious humor and overall positive outlook on life.
At the 2018 Walcott Truckers Jamboree, John won Trucker’s Choice. The year before, Brian Dreher had been Trucker’s Choice, and it was the first time Iowa 80 used that truck as their diecast. The picture of his truck was on the t-shirts and all the other Jamboree memorabilia. This was a huge honor! When John won the most prized award of the show, it meant his truck would be the diecast, the picture of his truck would be on shirts, mugs and keychains for the 40th anniversary of the Walcott Truckers Jamboree in 2019. John worked it out that year so that I got a beautiful trophy for being “Walcott’s Biggest Cheerleader” with a great picture of us on it.
During the light show in 2019, Danny Vela got down on one knee in front of John’s truck (her favorite color is purple) and asked Shelby Miller to marry him. She said yes. Now, fast forward to October 3, 2020, when Danny and Shelby picked us up at the Petro in Gary, IN to go to dinner. Unknown to me, John had a plan that he executed perfectly, with their help. Eating at the Olive Garden in Merrillville, IN, John had talked to the manager there and had it all set up. After we ordered, they brought me a plate with writing on it that said – Kim a yes or no – as John got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said YES!
John asked me on October 3rd, as he was headed west, and I was headed east. One day away from 10-4 Day, in honor of 10-4 Magazine. It was a great afternoon, and we started planning that day. It was easy to pick the date, of course, it had to be during the Walcott Trucker’s Jamboree, and this year it worked out perfect for two reasons. The Jamboree was scheduled for July 8-10. John’s birthday is July 8 and, because it was a little earlier in the month than usual, it meant that 10-4 Magazine could attend the show for the first time ever. It was nine months and six days from the day he asked to the day we got married on July 9, 2021.
Thank you to my “Sista” Su Schmerheim for helping me find the perfect dress, along with the dresses for the bridesmaids. In full planning mode almost immediately, our colors had to be purple and silver, of course. You can plan a wedding while driving a big truck with the help of a lot of friends. These days, once you do a Google search on something, you are bombarded with all kinds of things related to that search and, actually, that helped me to find a lot of perfect pieces to our wedding. On Etsy, I found the flowers, engraved sand vessels for the blending ceremony, the purple LED cake topper and much more.
My first shopping trip was with Su. I delivered in Michigan and, thankfully, she was home. We found the perfect toasting glasses, cake knife and server, and iridescent goblets for the bridal party. Emily Wolford and I got to have a great lunch and a wedding shopping trip in Green Bay, WI when we were there at the same time. Daniela Lockard gave me the idea to incorporate charms into my bouquet for friends who had passed away. I thought it was a great idea, and they made my flowers extra special. Su had the idea to put a charm for each of my bridesmaids in their bouquets, so they knew who’s was whose, and to tie into mine. Thank you, Daniela! They were all there with us.
Everyone knows that the groom isn’t supposed to see the bride’s dress till she walks down the aisle, but John put a little twist to that by not letting me see or know what he was going to wear until I saw him at that same time. He did not disappoint! With help from his daughter Jennifer, she found the perfect purple suit and white top hat. John added a purple wig he had won at Mardi Gras three years earlier but took it off once the ceremony started. Only John could have pulled off that suit so well!
At first, we wanted to get married at the truck stop, but when that wasn’t going to be feasible, I started looking for other venues. After Covid last year, places were booked for that weekend. One lady I called told me to check with the Davenport Parks and Recreation Department, and when I did, Susie helped me set up the perfect spot – the Credit Island Lodge in Davenport, IA, right along the Mississippi River. We Googled it and found it has a lot of history, and we were happy to add some history of our own there, too.
We were showing John’s truck on Thursday and getting married on Friday, which made for a very busy couple of days. Decorating on Thursday night, we didn’t have time for a rehearsal, because there was a light show to attend. As it turned out, we didn’t need the rehearsal, and if we didn’t tell anyone, they wouldn’t have known, as great as it all went. Danny Vela and Shelby Miller, thank you for being there to help us decorate on Thursday night! Danny and Shelby will be getting married themselves on August 28, 2021, right about the time this issue is hitting the streets. Congratulations!
We can’t thank everyone who helped with cleaning up the truck and helping get so much done at the wedding enough. Carl Nelepovitz walked me down the aisle, and Birgitta Irblich was a bridesmaid. Lisa Schoening (formerly Pons) was my matron of honor, and she was happy to see a lot of old friends at the show, as well as pitching in and helping in many ways. Dan Linss was John’s best man, and his beautiful wife Shannon was a bridesmaid. Norma Bradford helped us so much, and was a beautiful bridesmaid, as well!
It was awesome that Trevor and Alicia Hardwick (Trevor writes Poetry In Motion for 10-4 Magazine) could be there as a groomsman and bridesmaid. Kasey Aslinger was a bridesmaid, and her and Terry’s daughter Jo was our adorable flower girl. Our friend Mike Gaffin, aka The Boston Trucker, made the trip to our wedding a family vacation so he could be there as a groomsman. Aaron Murphy was also a groomsman, and we want to thank his beautiful wife Stephanie for all her help, too. Jeff Michalesko, an old friend of John’s, was happy to be a groomsman, too. He and his wife Natalie had a fun time. Justin Mosser (Mr. Humble) was a groomsman, and he said that he didn’t want to miss the entertainment – and he was not disappointed. John picked what I thought was the perfect song for all of them to walk in to, which was Kenny Roger’s You Decorated My Life.
Dennis Mitchell, who writes The Veteran’s View for 10-4 Magazine, officiated our wedding perfectly. He blended the exact amounts of humor and serious to our service to make it very memorable to those who were there. After Dennis presented us as man and wife, the groomsmen and bridesmaids did the arm pump and our DJ, right on cue, hit the train horn. And at Dennis’ suggestion, we walked back down the aisle to Jerry Reed’s East Bound and Down at the end of the ceremony.
We would like to thank our friend Desiree Hegedus for live streaming the ceremony for those who could not be there with us. And, on a personal note, I would like to thank her for helping me get in my dress. It was a part of the funny things that made our day so unforgettable. The way everything was set up, I had to get dressed in the utility closet next to the mop and bucket, with a big window. Not to be outdone, John put on his suit outside between the open doors of Su’s dually. Desiree’s daughter Madison celebrated her 13th birthday with us that day, and I’m sure it will be a birthday she will never forget.
Thank you, Wendy Wilfong, for doing all the girl’s makeup and taking some great pictures and videos. We are so happy that you and Kevin could be there with us, and I’m happy we finally got to meet in person. D. Woogman, an old friend of Bette Garber’s, flew up from North Carolina and, after meeting John for the first time, she told me, “You are not going to have a boring life.” That would be a big 10-4! Thank you, D. for your help packing up and helping us get so much done at the end of the night.
After the service, three people told us that they wish their wedding had been that much fun. Our goal was for everyone to have a good time, so I think we were successful. Our memory bank is overflowing with the laughter, smiles and fun that will last forever. I have said for a long time that John’s smile lights up a room, his truck lights up the night, and his love lights up my heart. We are on the road together forever, and it’s going to be an awesome trip!