SACRAMENTO, CA (CNN) - On New Year’s Eve, along the Mendocino, CA coastline, Ryder Goggin was celebrating his 5th birthday.
“We were walking around, crossing the bridge, and that’s when Ryder decided to cross over the creek,” said Ryder’s mother, Heather Baird.
He usually finds crab and small shrimp, but that day, Ryder found something he’d never seen before.
“Message in a bottle,” he said of his find.
Baird said, “I definitely thought of pirates, and maybe even a treasure map.”
She said there were bugs stuck on the lid of the bottle, but they managed to twist it open.
To their surprise, there was a letter inside.
“It says, ‘Hi my name is Chris. I am 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I live in Sacramento. Call me when you find this to let me know where it washed ashore. September 5th, 1988,’” Baird read.
“I gave the number a call, and of course it was disconnected,” she said.
The crew at KTXL in Sacramento took the phone number and searched for the letter-writer. The staff opened a special room with public records archives. There was nothing for 1988. But in 1981, there was a name - Cliff Farnsworth.
That was clue No. 1.
It was a long shot, but back at the station, staff searched and searched - then called and called. They even started calling any 36- to 39-year-old Chrises, Christophers, Christinas, Christine’s - and still nothing.
Then there was another clue. Baird said her aunt at the Library of Congress in Washington DC had found out that the number belonged to another person in 1988.
He had passed away. The station reached out to his family, but came up short.
“I think it would be great to find Chris and find out where he put the bottle in the water,” Baird said.
It’s a romantic story of a Sacramento child and his curiosity, now in the hands of a boy at Jug Handle Reserve in Mendocino County.
The hope is that one day they will meet and share their life experiences.
“Well, I hope we find out really good things about how his life went,” Baird said.
Until then, this 28-year-old story in the making will have to be continued.