Los Angeles duo road trips to stadiums throughout U.S.

Story and video by Kyle Cummings, NewsNetNebraska

Hannah Nakama was thousands of miles from reaching her dream.  About 2,400 miles actually.

The Los Angeles native and radio station employee is a die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan but never had been to the Pirate’s PNC Park.

Never mind that the Pirates have been one of the worst teams, not just in baseball, but in all sports in recent history. In fact they have a record to prove it – the most losing seasons in any professional sport.

“That’s fine,” Nakama said. “It’s the ultimate underdog.”

Hannah Nakama Pirates game

But Nakama knows this is the year the Pirates turn it around, she said. So, with the help of her friend Ray Noriega, a bartender in Los Angeles, she began looking into getting tickets to a game in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

After eyeing a few games, they began to research flight and ticketing information. As they were looking, one person came to mind – Craigslist Joe – a man who, with no money or contacts, used Craigslist and the help of anyone that would listen to find shelter and food for a month throughout America.

“We realized we could probably just road trip this, pay way less than what we were originally going to pay for flights and on top of that we can see the country, we can meet people,” Noriega said. “We could experience so much more than flying into Pittsburgh, seeing a game and flying back out.”

Video: The traveling duo’s visit to Lincoln


So with a little money already saved up for a trip, the two began planning a two-week long road trip that would take the sports enthusiasts to as many stadiums, fields or campuses from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh and back.

They began by taking a page out of Joe’s book and turned to Craigslist. But instead of looking for shelter and food, Noriega and Nakama asked people what they should see and do in their cities. The results were unbelievable, they said.

The posts blew up, Noriega said. After being flooded with replies on Craigslist, the post ended up on Reddit, and they received help from that social media outlet as well.

“We got so overwhelmed with everything,” Noriega said. “We took a lot of people’s responses and individually looked up every spot.”

Noriega and Nakama spent hours researching each  suggestion people had given them, Noriega said. Because they were so overloaded with ideas, they made two lists: one of places they definitely wanted to see and a second of stops they’d want to visit if they had enough time left over.

Noriega and Nakama stopped in cities throughout the United States. Here are just a handful of their stops. View Los Angeles, CA in a larger map

The biggest points on their itinerary included these highlights: watching a home game of Noriega’s favorite team, the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, celebrating Noriega’s 28th birthday in New Orleans — and of course, experiencing opening day for the Pirates.

But they had a variety of other miscellaneous stops planned as well.

Like a visit to Scratch pizza in Tennessee, a stove oven pizza shop where people bring their own drinks and listen to records while their pizza cooks.

“I’m kind of excited to go there because I think the idea of that pizza place is fantastic,” Nakama said during an interview in Lincoln, where they stopped on March 27.

Or taking part in a comic exchange where Nakama and Noriega and a couple in South Carolina were to draw comics with and of each other before trading drawings.

“We’re terrible artists,” Noriega said. “Someone we just met online and said, ‘Hey do you want to do a comic exchange with us?’ And we were like, ‘Heck yeah.’”

“It’s going to be horrible,” Nakama said.

“It’ll be awesome,” Noriega replied.

LA Roadtrip car

They also met up with people in Denver, Detroit, Baton Rouge and several others cities along the way. And in Lincoln, they spent three hours touring the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus, visiting Memorial Stadium and eating at Raisin’ Canes.

With stops planned in 30 states, Noriega wasn’t able to say there was one point in particular he was looking forward to the most.

“I figure after this trip is over, (the most memorable thing) will probably just going to be the interaction we have with people,” Noriega said.

Meeting new people on the trip will be an experience Noriega won’t forget, he said.

Nor will he forget the weather of early spring throughout the United States. He didn’t pack clothes for colder weather.

“We’re from California,” Nakama said, “so what is winter?”

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