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A 5-year-old from Mendocino County found a big surprise at the beach — a message in a bottle that’s three decades old.

On New Year’s Eve, along the beautiful Mendocino coastline, little Ryder Goggin was celebrating his fifth birthday.

“We were crossing the bridge, and Ryder decided to cross over the creek,” Ryder’s mother, Heather Baird, said.

He usually finds crab and small shrimp. But that day, Ryder found something he had never seen before.

“A message in a bottle!” Ryder Goggin said.

“I definitely thought of pirates and maybe even a treasure map,” Baird said.

Baird said there were bugs stuck on the lid of the bottle, but 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,'” read Baird.

She immediately tried calling the number. But it was disconnected.

So FOX40 went to the Sacramento Public Library. The staff opened a special room with public records archives. There was nothing for 1988. But in 1981, we found the number belonged to a man named “Cliff Farnsworth.”

That was clue No. 1.

It was a long-shot. But we searched and called everyone and anyone related to that person and number.

We even contacted any 36- to 39-year-olds named Chris, Christopher, Christina and Christine. Still, nothing.

Then FOX40 received a second clue. Baird said her aunt at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. found out the number belonged to another person in 1988. After a quick search, FOX40 found he had passed away. FOX40 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. “Well, I hope we find out really good things about how his life went.”

A romantic story of a Sacramento child and his curiosity, now in the hands of a boy at Jug Handle State Reserve in Mendocino County. One day, they hope to meet and share their life experiences. Until then, this 28-year-old story in the making will have to be continued.