Wish landed, but not exactly where I had expected. After all, I did say, ‘It’s off to Beaver County and the Predatory Pipeline.’ But I never told Wish when or where in Beaver to land, and knowing that this pipeline would take several years to build, it had to be sometime between 2018 and 2021. Plus, the Predatory Pipeline was expected to pass through many rivers where drinking and bathing water were pristine, where trout was plentiful, and where families picnicked along its banks, near homes, schools, and churches. So which river? Well, that was anyone’s guess.

So, here we are, surrounded by a serene landscape, probably next to one of the many streams feeding into the Ambridge Reservoir. But beneath this tranquil surface, mysteries lurk, waiting to be unraveled. With determination, Quinn and I are ready to begin our quest and morph into the investigative persona we are meant to be.

Followed by our passengers, we climb out of the gondola and, once on the ground, take deep breaths of air so fresh you can almost taste its sweetness. The sun is bright and the afternoon warm, yet the waters below greet us with a cool breeze. In full bloom, trees and colorful wildflowers add visual delight to this sensory experience. I know it’s summer, but summer of what year? The pastoral perfection of the scene made it evident we were along the Predatory Pipeline’s proposed route. It was obvious that no pipes had been laid here … yet. Thus, I thought the year might be around 2018, and I shared my thoughts with Quinn.

ME: “Quinn, I think we’re in 2018, maybe somewhere along the Service Creek Watershed, which feeds into the Ambridge Reservoir. What do you think?”

QUINN: “Spot on, Boss! You’re correct cuz 2018 was the year those nasty pipelines first got laid, or, should I say, when those nasty pipelines began to rape the land!”

ME: “Thanks, Quinn, for your rather crude comparison, but of course, you, too, are correct. Added to that are the 30,000 people depending on the Ambridge Reservoir for drinking water, who will eventually be poisoned … unless we can find a way to prevent the pipeline from being built in the first place.”

PASSENGER #1: “WOW, look at that river! It’s amazing. It’s so clear and clean. I can even see rocks at the bottom. Can we go down and dip our toes in?”

ME: “Sure, why not? Enjoy it while you can!”

We watch as passengers run down the hillside towards the waters of the gurgling river. Wish is left, parked on a grassy knoll awaiting our return. Hurriedly, our passengers take off their socks and shoes. Some enter the river, while others prefer to remain at its edge. Some playfully splash, others wash their faces, while those brave walk upon the many rocks at the bottom, arms outstretched for balance.

As for me, I pick up small flat stones embedded in the ground and toss each into the water, frisbee-style, watching as they skip once, twice, or several times. Each stone splashes in the river, with ever-widening circular ripples swelling outward as the stones jump. I became mesmerized by the process and overcome by a connection to the river. When one of the passengers hollers for me to join in the fun, I am jolted out of my reverie, after which I see him drink from the river, scooping its water up to his mouth with cupped hands.

PASSENGER #2: “Hey, come on in and join us. The water’s perfect, and boy, what a thirst quencher – best-tasting water I’ve ever had.”

Quinn gave me a side glance. That’s when I noticed the quills on Quinn’s back. They were stiff and standing straight up. Simultaneously, we understood the naivety of this passenger and probably all the passengers. Although tranquil, we both sensed the stream leading to the Ambridge Reservoir was also foreboding, its pristine waters tinged with shadows of impending danger. Turning to Quinn, my voice steady with resolve, I said …

ME:” Alright, Quinn. If our purpose is to stop history from being made, we need to find out what to do and who can help! So, let’s get going.”

Stay tuned to learn more …