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Physician/Cyclist Enjoys Mena’s Hospitality


While relaxation for some might be white sandy beaches to others it’s traveling, alone, cycling 70 to 90 miles a day across 5 or 6 states. As is the case for one Michigan anesthesiologist, who serves as the Chief of Staff at a major medical facility, whose job is so demanding, he is forced to plan vacations five-years out.

Dr. Mark Atkinson, from Kalamazoo, Mich., recently enjoyed the stay and hospitality of the Janssen Park Place Bed & Breakfast on the corner of Maple and 9th Streets after he flew to Houston to begin his cycling journey that will ultimately take him through 6 states before he returns back to the hallways at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

He travels with only the small trailer behind the bicycle and available technology and has no detailed pre-determined path… only a general one. He always finds lodging for the night and prefers B&B’s because, in his words, “seem to know more about their community.”

When asked how he determined to come through and stay at Mena he said, “Anytime you see a town this size with 5 or 6 hotels and this many restaurants…it’s a pretty clear indication they’ve got something going on.”

Dr. Atkinson has had a love for cycling since he was a child and said that he has literally traveled from west to east coast before. He picks “smaller and shorter” journeys now and said he was seeking “terrain” this particular trip. “You definitely have that here.”

On the day he departed Janssen Park Place, he was headed to Hot Springs. He didn’t prefer any of the preferred highway paths but yet a forest service road off of Hwy 7.

One of the most unique facets of Dr. Atkinson’s gear is that his bicycle folds up into the small trailer he pulls behind and he explained, made it much easier for loading and unloading of aircraft and through terminals.

He has this mode of vacationing down to a fine science, perhaps not as complex as the science he practices each day, but enough to know that he prefers B&Bs for the interaction with its hosts. He also knows that front-line personnel at convenience stores rarely know or care to share info about the community as much as insurance offices, “They are just better informed and more invested in the community and they don’t mind sharing it with you.” He’s learned to keep his eye on the sky and an appreciation for weather apps too as he started out of Mt. Pleasant, Tex. April 27, the same day as the tornadoes that destroyed much of Faulkner County.

Atkinson simply fell in love with Mena and said it is definitely a destination he plans to bring his wife back to enjoy for a longer 5 or 6 day stay. He had only praises for Janssen Park Place and it’s hosts John and JoLynn Vacca, citing that he has stayed at many through decades of traveling and  “they rank right up there at the very top.”


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