Christopher Setterlund, a 12th-generation Cape Codder, has just published an insider’s guidebook called “In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide.” It may be hard to find someone more suited to the subject than someone who has spent his entire life on the Cape, and whose family there goes back not just years or decades, but centuries.
Q. You were born and raised on the Cape, true?
A. Yes. My family goes all the way back to the second Mayflower voyage. My link is to the Doane family. Deacon John Doane was one of the original settlers of Eastham. He’s my ninth great-grandfather. On the National Seashore there’s Doane Rock, the Doane Homestead. There are a lot of things with the Doane name down here.
Q. For those born and raised on the Cape, is there a proprietary feeling about the place when it gets inundated? On the other hand, if you own a business, you’re excited for the summer season. It’s a mixed bag.
A. Yeah, right. It’s in between. You want them to come enjoy themselves, spend their money [laughs], and help our economy. It’s more when you have days off and you notice how congested it is, especially on rainy days, to get to places like Hyannis. It’s crazy how backed up the traffic gets. Then it’s like, “Oh, come on!” But most longtime residents know the back roads. I know every back road to get from where I live in Yarmouth to almost anywhere on the Cape with minimal travel on Route 6A or 28.
Q. There’s no shortage of travel books, and certainly no shortage of books about Cape Cod. What sets yours apart?
A. The first thing I did was I put all the places in geographical order. I wanted to make it easily accessible for a person who has no knowledge of the Cape. You can go over the Sagamore Bridge and take a left to Town Neck Beach in Sandwich. That’s the first place in the book and the first place you’d see on the Cape. Theoretically, if you wanted, you could follow the book and do it in one day — on the summer solstice, maybe. Being that I’ve been here my whole life, I know pretty much every inch of this place. I shared a lot of places the average visitor, and even some locals, aren’t too knowledgeable on. I’ve actually gotten some grief from some people. They say, “You’ve given away my favorite spot.” I tell them I’ve given away a couple of mine, too.
Q. Give me an example.
A. My favorite spot for sunsets is called Monks Park. It’s in Pocasset, on the western side of the Cape. I found it just driving around on sunny days. I enjoy going down roads I’ve never been down before. I kept driving to the water to take pictures, and I found this spot. There are these little islands on Buzzards Bay, and depending on the time of year, the sun will set between these two islands. There are railroad tracks that I’m almost positive are not in use anymore; there are plants overgrowing them. You can sit on the railroad bridge and watch the sunset above the parking lot. No one knows you’re there. I’ve done it numerous times. It’s really nice and peaceful.
Q. Does the book circle back around the Cape? Or do you expect readers to jump into the ocean at land’s end?
A. No, no [laughs]. It leads you to P-town, and then you circle down to Chatham. It follows the southern coast, and then you get off on the Bourne Bridge. There are more than 90 places in the book, and most of them are not that well known. There are a lot of beaches in there where everyone goes, but you kind of have to [include them]. But I joke that it’s like a greatest hits album: There are a lot of B sides, too. Those are like the heart and soul of the Cape, the places not everyone goes, that are sort of untouched and unknown.
Q. Until now. You ruined it.
A. Yeah, unfortunately [laughs]. Now I’m planning to do the same with Nantucket and the Vineyard. I’m not as familiar with them, so I had to get some help.James Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @sullivanjames.