When Clint Buffington spotted a Coke bottle buried in the sand on a Caribbean beach, he had no idea how far the discovery would take him. Curled inside the bottle was a yellowed, water-splotched note with a message scrawled in pencil: "Look inside." That barely legible note would lead to a very happy reunion with a family some 1,500 miles in New Hampshire, WMUR reports. But first, Buffington had to figure out what the waterlogged message said. He broke open the bottle, unfurled the note, but could only make out a couple of words, "like ‘return’ and ‘Beachcomber,’" he says. He eventually figured it out: "Return to 419 Ocean Blvd. and receive a reward of $150 from Tina, owner of the Beachcomber." He tells WCVB, "It didn’t take me long after opening that bottle to realize this one doesn't belong with me."
The Utah man eventually tracked down Paula Pierce, whose family owned the Beachcomber Motel in Hampton Beach, NH, until a couple years ago. Buffington flew across the country this week to deliver the special message in person to a "shocked" Pierce, who instantly recognized her father's handwriting. "It's incredible. He wrote this. His hands were on this,” Pierce tells WCVB. Pierce's parents passed away years ago, but Buffington's find "brings back a piece of him, a piece of her, a piece of my childhood, a piece of the Beachcomber,” she tells WMUR. Although her father meant it as a joke—$150 back then would have paid for seven nights at the Beachcomber—Pierce made good on her dad's promise and handed the musician and writing teacher a check for $150. "I made a new friend," she says, giving Buffington a hug. (Read more message in bottle stories.)