Just the other day I was reflecting on my days as a young boy. Stepping out of the house on the Eastern side and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face gave me the feeling of being energized. The morning sun had the power to quickly awaken my senses and make me feel I could accomplish anything. 

That memory came to me the other day as the sun was coming up. I could see a slight break of light coming through a slit on the side of my curtains. Yet, there I was, able to rest comfortably until I was ready to awaken naturally, or by my alarm. There was no need to have an engine idling due to the Freightliner battery-powered Dual HVAC system. The batteries had enough energy capacity to keep the HVAC system operating through the night. The sunlight this morning re-energized the Merlin solar panels. The batteries’ range was extended by the 630 watts of solar power being introduced to the batteries of Merlin Solar panels, which adorn the roof and hood of our Cascadia. It also took a load off the engine’s alternator as it did not need to recharge the batteries.

As I woke up, I took a look at the voltage gauge on the control panel inside the sleeper area and saw that the sun had not only rejuvenated the battery voltage from the overnight use of the dual HVAC system, but there was enough surplus energy for me to be able to brew a cup of coffee, without the need for awakening the mighty Detroit DD15 engine

As I started my day, I turned on the coffee pot, got dressed, and folded the bed into the wall so that I could deploy the dinette table and chairs that are part of the Freightliner driver’s lounge. I sat down to enjoy my morning ritual cup of coffee and my mind wandered to how this was back in the day. For one, there would’ve been no ability to stand up in the sleeper to get dressed. In fact, there was just barely enough area to sleep and shimmy into your clothes while lying down. 

Back then, a person most likely would have been in a cabover design truck, which meant after getting dressed, you’d slide across the top of which was referred to as the doghouse, and slide into the driver’s seat. Walk-in sleepers would be just a dream back in the early parts of my career. There certainly would not have been the luxurious accommodation provided by the Freightliner driver’s lounge. There would not have been the ability to have an energy source to power a dorm refrigerator, which also has a freezer, and enables me to bring along good food to eat when the travel center facilities are closed or unavailable. 

Today, the table and chairs that are part of the Freightliner driver’s lounge, is the feature that I am surprised with how much use I get out of it. I never would have believed that I needed that table so much. In the evenings, it’s nice to either watch TV, or read, or catch up on emails at a normal table.  

Driver comfort has come such a long, long way since the beginning of my truck driving career.  Comfort for the driver seemed like it was one of the lower concerns on older trucks from yesteryear. I used to joke at some of the earlier trucks I plied my trade in, where it seemed as though the “air conditioning” worked perfectly in the wintertime and the “heater” excelled in the summertime. This was due to a lack of insulation, sound deadening, and the absence of air conditioning.  

Yes indeed! I like waking up comfortably from a quiet night’s sleep with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, sitting at the table in the 72-inch sleeper, and having breakfast to start my day.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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