A New Mexico Breakdown Story

Ed Domain

July 1, 2020


I am in New Mexico to tell stories, and sometimes the journey becomes part of the story.

As part of their commitment to the communities they serve, Pattern was making a $44,500 donation to the Hereford Independent School District (ISD) in Hereford, Texas (just over the border of Eastern New Mexico). It was more than a few hours away, so I carefully made plans to get to Hereford the night before.

Driving east from Albuquerque, the windows were down in my Jeep Wrangler, and I wasn’t so much enjoying the view as I was loving it. I am still in awe at the natural beauty in New Mexico, and it was stunning in the late afternoon sun. 

“…what could have been awful turned into a really interesting side trip to Tucumcari. I met some great people and got a big reminder that given a chance, most people are good.”

I am in New Mexico to tell stories, and sometimes the journey becomes part of the story.

I thought about the next day, and why I was heading out there. The Hereford ISD covers approximately 900 square miles, and as a result not all the kids going to school can access the Internet.

The donation from Pattern was being used to create local, high-speed Internet access points so that the kids can have a place to be online and use it for all the things people in more populated areas take for granted.

It was nice to be out, the drive was great and I didn’t have a care in the world. Then, the smoke started.

Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.

Smoke was billowing out from under my hood, and a second later I heard it:

“POP! WEEEEEeeeeeeeeewww”

Smoke was everywhere. I was decelerating fast, and navigated as best I could to the shoulder of the highway. I took stock of the situation. My Jeep was old, and had lots of miles on it. I hoped it was just a broken belt and that I didn’t throw an engine rod.

The Desert Inn


The hinges of the hood made a slight creaking noise as I swung it up and leaned it back against the front of the Jeep’s roof. The belts were all intact – I had thrown an engine rod, which meant the engine was dead, dead, dead.

I made a silent prayer to the Travel Gods: “Please be close to civilization,” and checked Google Maps. I was 11 miles west of Tucumcari, and my insurance covered a tow of up to 25 miles. Perfect. I got a tow into town.

Things weren’t great, but I had stuff to do, Jeep or no Jeep. I got a room at a motel in town called the “Desert Inn,” which is locally owned. Given the pandemic and social distancing, the staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating, the bed was comfortable and the room sparkling clean.

I still had to be in Texas the next day, and as I investigated, I found out Tucumcari does not have Uber drivers, and only one Lyft driver. This was… not ideal.

Incredibly, Pattern isn’t just a cool renewable energy company making the world better, it has awesome people throughout the organization.


In the morning, the Pattern team assembled- my colleague Martina drove some 90 minutes out of her way to pick me up early at the Motel, and we made it to Texas in plenty of time.

We all met with Superintendent Sheri Blankenship and COO Joe Mendez. They were excited to have the donation, and were hoping the best for the upcoming school year.

They were joined by fellow Pattern employee Edgardo Ortega, whose children attend school in the district. His suggestion got the ball rolling on this project that ultimately led to the donation.


Edgardo Ortega

After work was finished, we grabbed a bite at a socially distanced cafe joined by Ben, another Pattern leader, who offered to tow my Jeep back to Albuquerque. 

If you’ve ever broken down in an unfamiliar place, you know how stressful it can be. Lucky for me, I work in New Mexico with Pattern Energy- Ben spent a couple hours going home to Clovis, getting a trailer, and then coming to get me while I sipped coffee at Kix on 66 restaurant until they closed at 2pm.

Martina, Ben, and Edgardo


After closing, the servers sent me down the block to their sister restaurant, “Cornerstone First Edition Pizza and Subs,” which is owned by the same entrepreneur Todd Duplantis, who happened to be there. He also happens to be the Mayor Pro Tem of Tucumcari! (That’s the person who becomes Mayor if the regular Mayor can’t continue in their job for some reason).


Thanks, Ben!

We spent a good hour talking about economic development in New Mexico, and Tucumcari in particular. He offered to give me a personal tour of town, and I made plans with him to go back and visit soon- you’ll see great stuff about Tucumcari in the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks to the generosity of my colleagues at Pattern, what could have been awful turned into a really interesting side trip to Tucumcari. I got a big reminder that given a chance, most people are good, want to help, and I’m lucky they also happen to be people I work with.

I’ll be back, Tucumcari.