By Clinton-or-so, the roads were clear. I'd remembered the advertisements for Branson, a self-made tourist town of country music shows, beginning at the Missouri border. Although they go on densely for a long time, they don't actually start until the better part of Springfield, which is very little of the state indeed. We made the Ozarks when it was still light, and I tested my new little camera at speed, on sunlit hills and winding roads. (There is nothing wrong with my old camera except size and weight.)
When we crossed the border into Arkansas, I got out my new Arkansas guidebook. (The bookstore had been sold out of Missouri.) It was entertaining in many of the wrong ways and some of the right ones. It told us that Coursey's, home of fabulous smoked meats, would be closed in January. It gave us an even bigger incentive to stop and stock up on smoked goodies while it was still December. We pulled over to skip stones over the Buffalo River, where we'd regularly stop to swim while doing this drive when we were younger. Thanks to the guidebook, we admired the signs for the Serenity Farm Bakery and an 80,000 square foot antiques mall specializing in the late nineteenth century, but stopped for neither.
We made it to Little Rock well after sunset, long enough after we'd set off that some family had started to worry. (The drive took well over an hour longer than usual, thanks to the snow-covered portion.) Here the temperatures hover near zero (Celsius), houses are lavishly decorated in Christmas lights, and - without snow - the world seems so much more alive than it did up north.