By Kimberly Jordan
The adventure began in 2009 on a remote island in the Turks and Caicos, in the Caribbean. What the adventurers didn't know was that the trail would lead right here to Lebanon.
Bob Buffington was visiting the island, inhabited only by wild dogs and a rare species of iguana - the Rock Iguana - when he came across a bottle. Buffington, who lives in Makanda, Ill. examined the bottle only to find a message enclosed in it.
Buffington's son, Clint, was called upon by his father to help decipher the note that had been floating in the ocean, as the majority of the ink had faded.
"It had been floating around for about four years," Clint Buffington said. One of the portions of the letter that could be read was the name of a ship, Mariner of the Seas. This ship turned out to be a cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Just where the bottle was dropped off the ship to begin its voyage to the Turks and Caicos, only the original authors could tell the Buffingtons.
When the pair began examining the letter, they believe the names they discovered lived here in Lebanon - at least at the time the note was dropped into the sea.
"The writing was mostly gone," Clint Buffington said. "The date on the message was 2005 and we tried to transcribe what we could get off the message."
After much examination, the pair have recorded what they believe the message reads, and are hoping that they can find someone who knows the pair who signed the note so that they can contact them about finding the bottle.
Clint said that much of what they gleaned of the message they did by looking at the impressions the pen left on the envelope. Here is what Clint and Bob believe the note reads:
"June 5th 2005 1:10 a.m.
To whom it may concern, this is a message in a bottle. It was thrown from a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship called Mariner of the Seas. If you receive this and are willing to do so, please write back. It would be interesting to see if this works. Our address is:
Keith McComas and Kristy Suttle
204 Wilson Rd
Lebanon, TN 37087
P.S. Mom says hi!!!"
Clint also confessed that this was not the first message in a bottle his father has come across.
"It's sort of funny. My dad has found a message in a bottle before. I have been lucky to find one, too." Clint said he recalls five or six other messages his father has found. It has apparently become a family affair, as Clint noted that his mother and brother are also bottle finders.
"I know that sounds pretty unusual, but we've always enjoyed adventures and this is the latest version of our adventuring, I guess.
"We all have different skill sets in my family, and for this particular message, I guess dad needed my young eyes to see the hidden words on the paper. He's helped me in the past, too, by suggesting that I look at the notes under a black light. But nothing we've tried has helped us find these folks yet. Often the best technology for solving a mystery is your fellow human," Clint added.
If anyone has information on the message writers, Clint said he and his father would like to know and asks that any leads be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And who knows, maybe the family will find another bottle in the future. The messages seem to be attracted to their family.