In the spring 2001, middle-aged newlyweds Bud and Patricia Kenny and their mule Della  left Hot Springs, Ark., headed for the coast of Maine. Their two-and-a-half-year walk across America included passage through the Midcoast during the fall of 2003, which was covered by all the local papers.

Bud Kenny has written a book about their trek and is offering it for free download. On Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 9 and 10; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9 and 10, Kindle users can download “Footloose In America – Dixie to New England” at no charge. The paperback edition is for sale online at Amazon.com and budkennybooks.com.

Della, an 1,800-pound Belgian mule, pulled a pack cart that produced electricity from the rotation of its wheels and a solar panel on the top. This gave the couple power for lights and fans in their tent, as well as lights and a sound system for their presentations (the back of the cart folded down as a stage). In the spirit of the old traveling medicine shows, they stopped and entertained folks along the way — instead of pushing pills and potions, Bud performed and peddled his poetry.

“Footloose In America” is not, however, a poetry book, but rather the story of their journey. Because Maine was the destination, its plays a big part in this book. The Kennys spent three years living in Prospect Harbor before continuing on with their journey.

Traveling mostly during the summer and fall each year, they would stop and find a place to spend the winter. Their first winter was in Madison, Ind., where Bud and Della got a job giving tours of the historic district with a Cinderella Carriage. Prior to this journey, Bud had owned and operated The Mule Line tours in Hot Springs, so he had the experience to do the job in Indiana. The second winter found them living and working with Mexican immigrants on an apple farm at Albion, N.Y., in the Snow Belt, halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. Della became a sleigh-mule: Bud found a small cutter in a trash pile and restored it and “Della loved pulling it,” he said.

Woven into the fabric of “Footloose In America” is an array of fascinating characters encountered along America’s byways. They range from the Amish in Ohio to illegal immigrants in New York to a bigoted slumlord 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. Bud said the hardest part of writing “Footloose In America” was deciding which stories to put in the book and which to leave out.

This was not the first time Bud traveled across America on foot with an equine. In the mid-1970s — with a pack pony and dog — he walked from eastern Pennsylvania to the northern Oregon coast, down the west coast to San Francisco then east to Arkansas. He spent the first winter of that 8,000-mile journey in a cave in Wisconsin and “That’s when I decided one day I would find a woman crazy enough to do something like this with me.” Twenty-five years later, he met Patricia. They married on New Year’s Eve 2000 in Hot Springs and hit the road the following June.

Originally, they planned to travel America for a few years, then transport themselves, Della and the cart overseas and tour other parts of the world. After living on the Maine coast, they hit the road again and wandered around New England for more than a year along a route that took them into the hearts of Boston, the Bronx and Manhattan. They had hoped to make connections in New York for crossing over to the British Isles. However, circumstances arose that required them to return to Arkansas in 2008.

In the spring of 2009, Della and Bud went to work for Hot Springs Carriage Company, showing folks around the city and national park. They retired earlier this year, and   Bud is currently working on a memoir of his 1970s trek and a humorous novel. For information about those future book, visit his website. More information and photos about the trek can be found at usonfoot.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.