February 15, 2002 Ė Neuschwanstein, Germany: Itís 11:42 pm and Iíve just settled down in my room, Hotel Neutor (itís pronounced New-tore, not neuter--I was quickly corrected by an irritable front desk clerk, who may or may not have had an abnormally high voice). I left Kauserslautern, Germany this morning at 6am, but had to drive the opposite direction to find a gas station with diesel fuel for my Volkswagen Passat. The good thing about starting my trip in the wrong direction is that Iíd forgotten my pillow and covers, so after gas I returned to my room and grabbed them, and departed at 6:57am. I headed towards Mannheim (didnít see it) and Stuttgart (went around it) and outside of Heidelberg (I think it was before Stuttgart) at Sinsheim, while doing about 100 miles an hour on the autobahn, I spied what looked to be the Concorde Supersonic Airliner in a museum, the full-size plane, not a small plastic impression. As I passed it, I recognized it as the Tupelov TU-144, the Russian equivalent of the Concorde--larger and faster, but plagued with safety problems so you see, this one is a static display. That's the only place you'd ever see one.
You rarely even see photos of the TU-144, and here I was looking at the real thing! Wow! (itís the best word I can think of--Iíve been on the road for 18 hours). I could've crawled over the bushes, illegally entered the museum and licked the wings if I'd been so disposed to do so. So I left the autobahn, drove through some little town I canít remember at a speed far less than 100, found the Technik Museum (I think it means technical), climbed on some bushes (the museum wasn't open yet so I improvised) and shot a few of these photos. The plane had its cute little canards out like a dog hearing the word 'bacon', and its pointy nose down, like a dog sniffing for the bacon he heard about on the floor. It was supported on a stand. This was quite a treat! You wonít find too many people who have ever seen this aircraft, and I'm one of them. I'll charge you $25/hour for an audience.