Through My Lens: Thompson Grove

Things on a map or even Google Earth can be very different in real life. That's one of the main reasons I like to visit locations that I'm writing about.

I'm so glad we made the trek to Thompson Grove Picnic Grounds in the Rita Blanca National Grasslands.  I needed an isolated spot and you'd think that a national park that's 230,000 acres would do the trick. Well, I wasn't that lucky. 
A little history about the Grasslands.
 Rita Blanca is now part of the location of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. It's not really farm land in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. You can discover more facts about what happened, but the result was that farm land was purchased by the government ... but not all of it. So throughout the Grasslands, there are homes. Lots of homes. It's not an isolated area.
There's a house on just about every road. Was it too late to modify the story? We drove all day attempting to find a spot for my plot to work. It didn't. So I modified it. I had to find a reason to keep my hero and heroine in the Thompson Grove Picnic Area. It involves a shock collar. Right...you'll have to read SHOTGUN JUSTICE for the details.

The road leading to the picnic area was
as soft as the sand on Padre Island.
Fortunately there was a permanent structure.
I definitely wrote this into the book.

Three permanent picnic tables made it into the story.

We'd driven all morning and into the afternoon, holding off lunch to picnic at Thompson Grove. But when we got there, we weren't alone. Three young men (probably underage) were drinking. That in itself wasn't the problem. They also had weapons and were target shooting (using the beer bottles and cans). Even if I trusted their aim...we couldn't hang around. We had the pups with us and they aren't used to gunfire. Needless to say, we left. 

Would you call 911?
Across the road from the Picnic Area appears desolate,
there's a home just to the left of the tree. In the story,
it's empty...for sale.
Honestly, target shooting (without drinking) wouldn't have bothered me. But yes, we called the Sheriff's Department to report the incident. It was officially a NATIONAL park after all. Sad fact was that there was nothing the Sheriff's Department could do. We were over an hour away from Dalhart where the closest law enforcement was located. We'd driven over 9 hours to have lunch in this spot...ended staying 15 minutes. 

Right around the corner is one of the most beautiful sights I've seen. After weeks of rain back in Dallas, it was a clear, sunny day. We turned and had to pull over. No kidding. EVERY direction was covered in yellow for miles. I'm not sure how long the blooms last, but they are worth the spring time drive !! 

I had a new idea for the story and we experienced beauty in the making.

I'm really excited that readers are loving SHOTGUN JUSTICE. Catch books 1 & 2 of my TEXAS RANGERS: ELITE TROOP mini series. 

So... WOULD YOU HAVE DIALED 911 or just driven away?


  1. I love the yellow flowers picture! It looks like it was something gorgeous to experience!

  2. I would probably have called 911. That's not a good combination.

  3. I probably would have called too, especially with it being a national park. It's too bad your day was cut short like that.

    1. We kept driving and I love that my husband kept working through the problem with me until I had a solution. Sometimes he's a really good man.

  4. oh my goodness yes I would of called 911 in a heartbeat we have a park about 1/4 of a mile once you get on the windy road well there are campers there and we have seen beer and guns which this is a crowded park we just drive thru for a ride anyway yes we have called 911 several times! Great story

  5. Shouldn't they have passed the information on to Game Wardens? It seems that the guns would have been a violation of federal law. Too bad they seemed to blow it off even though I know that law enforcement is overburdened. Sorry to see that something like this took away the pleasure of your day but the dogs have to come first in a case like that.

    1. There is regulated hunting in the grasslands n--specified times of the year. But this was a picnic area. I'm not certain ANYONE was close enough to do anything. We did have a better time around the corner...

  6. I would have called, entering under the name of Virginia, love this series.