Sidney, NE

I’m biking east along I-80 and today I’m in Sidney, Nebraska. Wikipedia says the city is named after a president of the Union Pacific Railroad.

The origin story of my previous stop, Pine Bluffs, WY, also involves UPRR. Clearly UPRR had a huge influence in this region. It makes me wonder what it was like back then this town was founded and named. My naive mental picture is that of western movies — brown dry land, tumbleweed, bar saloon, and pistols. But it sounds like railroad companies were more powerful than pistols!

Also like Pine Bluffs, this is another tiny town. Population is 6000. That reminds me of the McDonald’s index, which I developed back when I lived in Ithaca, which is a much bigger town than Sidney, but still plenty small for me, who grew up in Tokyo. Put simply, McDonald’s index is the number of McDonald’s the town has? Ithaca had two, IIRC. Pine Bluffs had zero. Sidney has one. Think about how many McDonald’s exist in your city and see how that compares.

The land is all dry grassland, vast and empty as far as eyes can see. I have a feeling that until I get to Omaha, which is still 400mi/650km away, this scene won’t change too much.

(This trip is virtual, not physical)

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