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Footloose In America – Dixie to New England

“A vagabond poet, a businesswoman and a mule walk into a bar together.” Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?

It’s actually one of the many true adventures that middle-aged newlyweds Bud and Patricia Kenny had with their mule Della on their two-and-a-half-year walk across America. In the spring of 2001 the trio left Hot Springs, Arkansas headed for the coast of Maine.

“Kenny writes in such a conversational, in-the-moment tone that it’s a little jarring to realize that his and his wife’s journey happened more than a decade ago. . . .the Kennys’ stories grow on you–as does Della’s, as she’s easily one of the most engaging equine personalities this side of Mister Ed. Simply put, they’re good company.” —Kirkus Reviews

Della, an 1,800 pound Belgan mule, pulled a pack cart that produced electricity from the rotation of its wheels and a solar panel on the top. Power for lights and fans in their tent, as well as stage lights and a sound system for their shows. The back of the cart opened as a stage. In the spirit of the old traveling medicine shows, they entertained folks along the way. But instead of pushing pills and potions, Bud performed and peddled his poetry. The cart also had a computer and printer on board, which they used to publish his poetry books. Footloose In America is not a poetry book. It’s the story of their 2 1/2 year journey.

They traveled mostly during the summer and fall. Then they’d stop and find a place to spend the winter. Their first winter was in Madison, Indiana, where Bud and Della got a job giving tours of the historic district with a Cinderella Carriage.

The second winter found them living and working with Mexican immigrants on an apple farm at Albion, New York. It’s in the snow belt, halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. The Mexicans called Bud “Loco Gringo.”

Woven into the fabric of Footloose In America is a fascinating array of characters that they encountered along America’s byways. They range from the Amish in Ohio, to the migrant farm workers in New York to a bigoted slum-lord in Indiana. Because they had no set agenda or schedule to keep, the Kennys could take the time to engage the interesting people they met.

According to Bud, the hardest part of writing Footloose In America was deciding which stories to put in the book and which to leave out. Bud said, “The book is 356 pages. It could easily have been over a hundred pages longer.”

Amazon.com reviews rate Footloose In America 4.7 out of 5 stars. “I didn’t like the end. Not the ending–but the end. I wanted it to go on and on. I so enjoyed the characters. . . .” –BHS book lady–

“. . . appealing account of a long walk (with mule) from Arkansas to Maine.”–Kirkus Reviews.

Footloose In America – Dixie To New England available at budkennybooks.com or Amazon.com

Bud Kenny Books