Our first stop was Laramie, Wyoming. It may be the Western girl in me, but I almost preferred the dusty little town to Odgen, Utah. Because it's a college town, Laramie has a surprisingly cool vibe—it feels like the kind of place where you'd run away to live cheaply and paint or write.
The rest of the day went by in a blur of ranchland. I love barren landscapes where you can see for what seems like hundreds of miles in any direction. But even I needed the distraction of an audiobook to pass the time. We took a few bathroom breaks, including at the much-promoted and definitely-not-worth-the-hype Little America reststop. But the sunset we drove into that evening definitely broke up the monotony of the day.
We entered Ogden by nightfall and had no real idea what it looked like. Sneaking into the Ogden Marriot at 7, we arrived just in time to enjoy the Thanksgiving buffet. It might not have been mother's home cooking but it tasted great at that time and place.
The next day we checked out the city. The historic downtown, only two blocks from the hotel, might be Ogden's gem. With its wide avenues, it looks a lot like other old agriculture towns in the West like Fort Collins and Laramie. Even though the area immediately around the Marriot charmed us, the rest of Ogden, with its big box stores and chain restaurants, resembles most small American cities.
By looking at a map, we discovered that there was a bird sanctuary not too far away, so that's where we headed after breakfast. First, you can walk around the marsh with an option to end or begin in the Visitor's Center for information about how the geography developed and about the birds that migrate through it. Next, you can drive around a wider area, where you have a greater chance of spotting wildlife. It makes for a lovely, relaxing excursion, and—we can't be sure—but we thought we spotted swans, floating two-by-two on the lake.
The next day, we stayed in our hotel room almost all day. It felt decadent and was exactly what we needed.
If we'd had more time, I would have liked to drive up to the nearby ski towns. According to the front desk clerk, Snow Basin is the nearest resort to Odgen, about thirty minutes away. If I went back, I would probably stay in one of those town; after all, when you get away from it all, you want to really get away from it all, including chain stores and housing developments.
For Ogden to really work as a destination, the city would have to continue to promote the historic downtown but also offer more amenities like theater, music, and nice restaurants.