Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

It verified the drip, drip, of snow melting and sliding off brown wood shingles would not turn into ice cycles any time soon.


Winter Road Trip in the Easter Sierras
But one year, the highway patrol flagged you down at a blinking yellow light to check out your chains with one of those abnormally long flashlights they always carry.


An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

5-Year Time Frames


By the fall of 2010, with the help of local business owners, the Village had seen a resurgence of new restaurants and stores.

But, if you and the Swall Meadows family had Googled “Mammoth Real Estate Market” in 2011, you would have come across links to realtor blogs discussing foreclosures and distressed properties.

In August Jeff Warwick reported on the sales of bank-owned (REOs), foreclosures, pre-foreclosures and short sales.

  • Of all those closed 2011 sales, 89 of them were distressed (REO’s or Short Sale) transactions.
  • 43.4% of all 2011 fell into the distressed real estate category.
  • He pointed out that only 5% of the listings are distressed, but 43% of closed sales are distressed.
  • And nearly 1/3 of all closed sales were cash buyers — a market indicator that the investor-buyer accounted for a stronger component.

Wikipedia picks up the story thread:

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, affirmed the judgment in December 2010, and the California Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal on March 23, 2011.

On Monday July 2, 2012, Mammoth Lakes filed for bankruptcy in the face of the judgement.

Later the same year, the bankruptcy was dismissed as a result of a settlement between the town and their largest creditor.

Having guessed right all those years, maybe we were due for a Thanksgiving-like winter in February of 2012.

Bad news for the rest of the family, but not so bad for me because I hadn’t fully recovered from my skiing accident surgery.

Sure, I’m easy with solitude, but even I can catch cabin fever.

Upstairs there’s a loft between the third bedroom and second bathroom.

Where the bunk beds accommodate the younger and single family members

Usually you can look directly out through the top window across from the bunk beds to see snow laden fir trees giving way to streams of snow blowing off the mountain peak.

Only this year, not so much.

Yes, lots of snow packed the upper third of the mountain.

But in town not so much.

Even the black pavement, often treacherous at night with black ice patches, dried to gray.

There’s a huge round thermometer in the glassed in porch overlooking the hot tub where we dip into a winters supply of firewood,.

It verified the drip, drip, of snow melting and sliding off brown wood shingles would not turn into ice cycles any time soon.

You couldn’t grab the green disc or red plastic sled out of the closet to slide in the deep snow   on the two stage slope along the side of the condo complex.

Well you could, but you wouldn’t make much progress.

Unless you slid a foot, hopped up and ran to the next patch sat with your feet and knees pulled up for the next two feet, and so on and so on.

But the lack of deep snow meant one thing.

Another off road adventure exploring the area on the opposite side of the turnoff to Mammoth Lakes.

We backtracked on Meridian Blvd to where it dumped into CA 203 (or Main Street in town) turned right and drove to US 395 intersection.

Winter Road Trip in the Easter Sierras

In years past we collectively held our breath, arriving near or past midnight in our SUV at that intersection.

During a normal snow season roadside signs told you you needed to put on your chains before you could climb the final hill into the town and your condo.

We wanted to take our chances each time.

But one year, the highway patrol flagged you down at a blinking yellow light to check out your chains with one of those abnormally long flashlights they always carry.

Reluctantly I flipped open the hatchback.

Grabbed some gloves and a flashlight.

Pulled out the rear tire chains and fumbled for 45 minutes fastening them.

Not noticing that the blinking yellow check point closed.

Oh well.

Other years, having learned from my ordeal, we’d shell out the going rate to locals for installing our chains, while we stayed warm inside listening to the final songs on our road trip playlist.

But enough about that.

Part Four:  Stuck in the Middle with You


25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.” 

28) Which lifestyles profiled in the western resort towns during 2008 – 2009 remained five years later in 2013-2014?  Which disappeared entirely? Why? Which new lifestyles emerged, grew or moved in to shift the neighborhood mix? Have longtime locals been forced out by escalating property 

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on


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