Jim Caldwell travels to Japan shortly after Fukushima

Shortly after 9-11, Jim Caldwell, from the Redondo Beach Fire Department, found himself on a plane to New York to assist the other emergency responders, all hoping to find and save the lives of loved ones.

For years, Jim had a desire to see Spring and the cherry blossoms of Japan.  Finally, after months of 96 to 120 hour shifts, Jim had trip scheduled.  First, there would be a short stop off at Hawaii’s North Shore for a few days.   North Shore at the end of Winter and beginning of Spring means big surf at Waimea and Pipeline.  From there, Jim would continue his trip onto Japan.

Shortly after buying his plane ticket another great tragedy happened, the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and the eventual explosion of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors.  Jim hopped (well, maybe not hopped based on how travel is these days) on the flight to Honolulu.  He purchased his ticket through Travelocity, once in Hawaii he would finally have the time to see about postponing the second leg of his trip to see the cherry blossoms and shrines in Japan.

Honolulu International Airport -  Jim Caldwell

The weather and water on Hawaii’s North Shore were fantastic this time of year.  Water in the 70s and air in the 80s.  And as is usually the case, Pipeline delivered its big surf.  Paradise.

Shortly after arrival, Jim Caldwell began negotiating with Travelocity about trying to get his airfare to Japan back.  (A simple thought for those planning a vacation and using Travelocity, that company is not so keen on doing the right thing once they get your money.)  After a few days on the phone, Jim was unable to convince them that the nuclear radiation belching from Fukushima was one of those conditions that the normal descent person would think the right thing to do is return the money or give a voucher for the airfare.

Travelocity offered Jim less than a pittance if he cancelled his trip.  He pondered for  a day about returning back to Redondo Beach or continuing on to Tokyo and Kyoto.   Since the airfare was a sunk and irretrievable cost, Jim decided to continue on eastward.  It was cherry blossom season in Japan.

Click here and check out Jim’s trip to Japan, the cherry blossoms and the shrines.