Monday, March 24, 2008

Strange stuff in Santa Fe

As we were having morning coffee, Robin read a story in the newspaper about someone who threw a bottle in the ocean off the coast of Oregon twenty-something years ago and it was found washed up on shore in Alaska just recently.

I told Robin that reminded me of a "note in a bottle" experience that I had in 1990. My son, Josh, who was in Junior High at the time, and I were home on a Sunday afternoon. We lived on a road in the foothills of Santa Fe that had originally been an arroyo that drained water from the foothills to the Santa Fe River, which was very nearby. Every year or so, when a big rain storm drenched the mountains and foothills, a flash flood would suddenly come raging down the street.

This particular August 12th, we were watching TV when we heard a roar that sounded something like a freight train outside. It wasn't raining in our neighborhood, but it was pouring higher up in the foothills. We went outside and the street that ran up the side of our house, Lorenzo Road, was under about five feet of class 5 rapids. Our yard (and all the yards in the neighborhood) were about 10 feet above the road, so the street/river was not a threat.

I said "Hey, lets write a note and put it in a bottle. We'll put our name and address in the note, and ask anyone who finds it to write and tell us where they found it." We found a plastic Evian water bottle, wrote a quick note on scrap paper, and tossed in the rapids.

We didn't think we'd ever see it again. Or at least, not soon enough that we'd still be living at that location. If someone found it ten years later, we'd never know it.

About two or three weeks later Josh and I were outside, unloading groceries from the car. A kid that lived up the lane from our driveway came walking up to us and said "Did you put this in the river?" It was the note that we had written. "Where did you find it?" we asked the kid.

"My family was on vacation in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. An old Mexican man saw our Santa Fe license plate and came running up to our car and asked if we were from Santa Fe. We said yes, and he handed us this note and said he'd found it in the river (the Rio Grande)."

Maybe it's just me, but come on. What are the chances that the bottle could have made it through the Santa Fe River all the way to the Rio Grande, then through a couple of dam systems, all the way to Mexico? And then to be found in Mexico by someone who lives a dozen houses away?

I had lost track of the note over the years, didn't have a clue what had happened to it. The day after telling Robin this story, she's going through some files in one of her filing cabinets in her office and pulls the note out of a folder.

I don't know what's going on here, but I'm framing this piece of scrap paper.


The original note in a bottle that made it from Santa Fe to Mexico and back.