Interviews

Lightening the Load with Joni

She may have started the Race with a huge back-pack and a desire for some plastic surgery, but after taking in her surroundings, Joni decided to travel the road of life with less baggage.

miri: We know Lisa is a huge fan of the show and has been for quite a while. What about you?

Well, I watched it and I freaked out. I'm like, I can't do that. I'm too big, too slow, too old. I can't do it.
Joni: I actually didn't start watching till Season 5, and that is when Lisa first asked me if I would go on the show with her. And I actually—I thought I'd heard of it, but I didn't know what it was. And I thought she said it was the Amazing Grace. And that was back when I was a children's minister. And I was real excited to think that she wanted to go on a Christian program. And so I immediately told her I would do it. And then she goes, okay, this is what time it comes on and I want you to watch it. Well, I watched it and I freaked out. I'm like, I can't do that. I'm too big, too slow, too old. I can't do it. I proved that point later on, anyway. And so then I started watching it and I got hooked. So I've watched it since Season 5. Yay Bowling Moms! Wooo!

miri: Oh, yeah. I love them. So obviously this is all her idea. And did it take a lot of talking into?

Joni: No, because, like I said, I totally misunderstood her. When I first saw it, I said no, but then I was sitting at home and you're watching it on TV. You go, why can't, you know, eat that caviar faster? Why can't you dah dah dah dah? You know, it's totally different. And so I agreed. I said, sure.

Tribefan: How much nagging did it require to get you to do the application and the tape?

Joni: None. None. We had talked about doing it, and the problem was, she was all the way in Florida and I was in Texas. And we hadn't really seen each other in so long. And so I think Hurricane Dennis was the hurricane that came, and she evacuated because it looked like it was going to get really bad. And she came to my house. And so while she was there we just literally threw the tape together. We didn't—we just made a list of things that we wanted to say, and we sat down on the couch and they started taping. We kept messing up and laughing. And we watched the tape, and it was all our mistakes, and we sent it in.

Tribefan: I think Steve and Dave did that, too.

Joni: Yeah. It was totally not—it was nothing like we thought we were going to send. It was so funny that we went ahead and sent it in. They want to see your personality. I think that's what they saw.

miri: Exactly. They saw you being yourself.

Joni: Right.

Tribefan: That's a good thing. I know that you guys did a lot of research before you went on the Race, and were reading all the Racer interviews and all that kind of thing. What specifically did you learn about, like packing, for instance, from doing all this research?

Joni: Well, when you're packing, you really think in the back of your mind that you're going to get to actually go through all the climates. Okay? That's the first thing. So you don't want to leave anything out. But what we did was we looked and we read what different people said was the best thing that they took. And we just tried to take a little bit of everything. And you saw our backpacks. We crammed those backpacks as full as we could, thinking that we were going to be on the Race long enough to use it. Had we known, I would have taken a fanny pack. But you just don't know.

miri: I think that's the thing most Racers seem to say, is pack lighter than you ever think you'll need to.

Joni: Yes. I would just almost not take anything, and then just beg for stuff when you get places.

Tribefan: Yeah. Because everybody seems to be carrying a lot early in the Race. Everyone seems to have much more than they have as they go along. Had you stayed in the Race longer, would you have dumped some of what you had in your backpack?

Joni: Well, actually, we flew in from Denver, and we had a layover in Houston, which is really weird because that's my hometown. But we had a layover in Houston. I dumped stuff in Houston. I was already tired of the backpack. I flew from Denver to Houston. I threw like gloves and just all this extra stuff because when you want to get one thing out, you have to take everything out because nine times out of ten, it's in the bottom. And we had even used these big Ziploc bags and like separated things into bags. Like all our cold stuff was in one Ziploc bag. All of our hot weather stuff was in one. Our Power Bars were there. First aid was in one. But it was so hard to even—so I just started throwing stuff away in the airport. People are looking at me like I was crazy. I'm like, yeah, well the policemen didn't say anything, so I just threw them away. It was gloves and a blanket and I don't know what all I threw away there.
Joni in full Glamazon mode.
Joni in full Glamazon mode.
miri: And is that where you lost your tiaras?

Joni: That is, yes. I had a separate bag, and actually, not only did it have those in there and all my makeup and like shampoo and stuff, it had my-we have to wear an ID tag for the Race. And my tag kept rubbing on my microphone, and so they asked me to take it off for a few minutes so that they could record some things. And I took my ID off and put it in the bag. And that was like all the important stuff-my blood type; it's got emergency contact numbers. It's got everything on it. And that was taken. And it was like the minute I took the tag off and set the bag down, I turned back around to pick it up and somebody had already got it. It turned back up. It turned back up later on at the airport. And my husband was actually able to go pick it up while I was still away. And he had no idea where I was because they don't tell them anything. It freaked him out when the airport called and said, "We found your wife's bag." And he goes, "Where did you find it at?" He's thinking like some country far away. And they said, "Houston." Houston? He did know that we had come back through.

Tribefan: Do you think maybe it was picked up by security?

Joni: I don't know. I kept looking for somebody I knew. I was going to try to like see, hey, I'm passing through Houston. But I didn't see anybody.

Tribefan: That's probably a good thing because you're not supposed to see friends.

Joni: That's true.

Tribefan: It's like they say, "don't put your bag down." But, I mean, if you don't step away from it, it's not really a security hazard.

Joni: Yeah. Well, see, and we finally decided to-we didn't want to spend any of our money on anything except-we were going to live on Power Bars. We didn't want to spend any of our money on anything except taxis and what we had to buy. But we decided to get a Subway sandwich. And that's where we were, and that's where I put my bag down. And when I turned around to pick it up, there was no bag. And whoever got it, though, looking in there, you would think that they-because they had like-they give you a term, like glossary words, like what it means when they say "Make your way," dah dah dah. And all that information was in there. And whoever got it didn't even-they must not have ever seen the show because anybody that would have seen it, I think, would have kept it.

Tribefan: Yeah, or sold it on eBay or something.

(Laughter)

Joni: Mabelline foundation. All that stuff for sale, that would have been scary.

Tribefan: So, okay, you get picked. How many interviews did you go through to even get chosen to be in the final group?

Joni: After we sent our tape in, they had like semifinals in different states. And one of them, they had a semifinal interview in Austin. And they tell you-you have to drive yourself there. So Lisa and I went to Austin, and that's where we were interviewed. And all they did was sit you in a room and basically just tell you to start talking. And they ask you a few things. And then after that one, we were called to go to LA. And that was for finals. And that's where there was about 60 teams there. And we actually looked around the room and made a list of who we were thinking would make it. And there were a couple of teams we were iffy about. There was only one team that was not on our list that made it, which was Lake and Michelle. But everybody else was on there. And then-except there was another team we weren't too sure about. It was between them and MoJo. But I kept saying I knew MoJo was going to make it because she is beautiful. I mean, they just have that look. And then there was another team that was sort of like them in a way. Because there were so many-there was tons of like hot chick teams. There was tons of like good-looking guy teams. There was tons of-but there was only one Hippies, one pair of Hippies. And we immediately knew that BJ and Tyler would make it. It was just-it was so obvious. But anyway, it was just the too-gosh, I go on rabbit trails, man-it was just two interviews. It was one in Austin and one in LA. I was like, what was the question?

Tribefan: John and Scott were at that one. I was wondering, did they see you there? Is that where you got the nickname the Frosties?

Joni: Yes. That is-you were told, do not talk to any other team, because they don't want anybody to hear accents or learn anything about each other. So all the teams in LA, we had certain times we would go eat. We had certain times we could go to the pool or go to the workout center or whatever. And it just so happened that John and Scott had the same lunch and dinner time as we did. And so we weren't supposed to talk, but we kind of made eye contact. And I think that that's where were first stated noticing, hey, they're smiling. They're saying "hey." We could tell that they're really funny. And like people on the production staff would go around and talk to people, and any time they were at John and Scott's table, you could hear this roar of laughter. I mean, he was just cracking people up. And so we just kept saying, we want to be friends with them, even before we actually even met. But that's where he started calling us the Frosties.

Tribefan: Yeah, because it's funny. I just rewatched the first episode. I mean, you guys are heading out of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and he's already calling you the Frosties when you haven't officially met yet.

Joni: Right. And then also, whenever we were leaving out of Red Rocks, they accidentally took an exit that they weren't supposed to that led to a rest area, which we-he was laughing about it later. Okay, the two gay guys go to a rest area as soon as the Race starts. And I even turned around in our car. I said, oh, we lost our friends. And like you just said, we hadn't even met yet. So when we get on the shuttle at the airport and we're talking, they're, oh, hey. And we forgot to tell the man to go, the shuttle driver. We sit there and talk. And our camera crew is just like-because they won't say anything. They're like these invisible people. And like, oh, yeah, we forgot. We need to go to the gate quick.

miri: So I don't know why, but you strike me as a little bit outgoing and like you can talk to people. So was it really difficult during that interview process when you're not allowed to talk to anyone and you're just stuck with each other in the hotel room?

Joni: Oh, we went crazy. Lisa and I went crazy. We lost our minds because I have to talk to people. And you can only say so much to the same person for-we were there for two weeks, in LA. In a room, locked. We would try to communicate with people out the window. Out our window, there was a ledge, and people would throw like their cigarette butts and stuff. We tried to make one of those claw games. We took our iron and we put a wad of tape on the end of the cord and we dropped it down to see who could pick up the most cigarette butts-it was bizarre. We were absolutely crazy. We colored pictures in coloring books and taped them on the wall. But we found out later everybody went through the same thing, though, because everybody that was chosen has these kind of personalities. They're just way out there. So after we got talking to everybody, we found out that they did the same thing. They were going crazy, too.

miri: Do you think that's part of the test, though, that if you can survive those two weeks crammed up with each other, that you'll do okay on the Race?
I'm thinking, what if this is the reality show? What if they're putting you in this room, and you're wondering if you're going to be chosen or not. What if this is the show?
Joni: I think so. You really begin to think crazy thoughts. Because then I thought there were cameras in the air conditioner vents. And I would even like wave at them sometimes just-because you don't know. I'm thinking, what if this is the reality show? What if they're putting you in this room, and you're wondering if you're going to be chosen or not. What if this is the show? Because that would have been crazy in itself. And we were told not to leave the room, so I would keep my feet in the room and lay my body out in the hall because technically I was still in my room because my feet were. But I would be like looking down the hall to see somebody else.

Tribefan: Like NFL rules. As long as your feet are over the line... Oh, my gosh. So you make it, you're chosen, and you're at the starting line. What is going through your head at the starting line?

Joni: We kept saying, do you think we're really going to do this? Because when you get picked, they say there are alternate teams, which nobody ever sees the alternate teams. So I'm not sure if the alternate teams exist. I'm not sure that they don't exist. We just kept thinking, maybe we're alternates. And we were standing there, and Phil is in front of us with his hand up in the air giving the speech. And me and Lisa, we looked at each other and said, do you really think we're going to do this? Did they pick us? And when we heard the word, "Go," it was like-I felt like everything just-you know how in a dream, you're trying to run and you can't make it? That's what it was like. And we had layered our clothes because we knew it was going to be like 20-something degrees. We had on like three pairs of pants. I had on jeans, I had on a pair of exercise pants, and then a pair of leggings. And we could barely bend our knees to walk. And when we saw that we were going to have to run up the amphitheatre, it was like Gumby or whatever that thing is, with legs and arms.

Tribefan: Gumby?

Joni: Yes. We couldn't move, which didn't help us at all, either.

Tribefan: No, that would be tough. And I do know what the altitude is like there.

Joni: Yeah. We felt like our chests were caving in. And it was so hard because we had made the deal that I would read the first clue, and when we got to the bags, they didn't really show everybody having the trouble that they had breathing and reading the clues. You heard some of the comments, like I think Yolanda said, "I feel like I've got blood in my lungs." And people were going, "I can't breathe." The camera crew asked Lisa did they need to call medics because she was driving and she could not breathe and was just coughing and coughing and coughing and coughing. And I'm thinking to myself, what have I got myself into?

miri: Oh, my goodness.

Tribefan: And you're not even to the airport yet.

Joni: And we're in last place.

Tribefan: That's true. You were kind of pulling up the rear for both episodes.

Joni: Even when we were walking. People said, if you run. We were running. But it's like-you have 48 hours of footage. God bless the editors. They're great. They are great editors. But they can pick what they want to show. And I think there was-the second episode, it did show us run a little bit. We actually did run.

Tribefan: I saw you run a couple times.

Joni: Yeah. We thought we were running.

Tribefan: You ran more than Steve and Dave. They never ran.

miri: They strolled.

Tribefan: Yes, they did.

(Laughter)

Joni: And I got to meet them at TARcon. I love them.

Tribefan: Oh, Steve and Dave are, yeah-

Joni: They're so funny. Just so funny.

Tribefan: Did you guys make any decisions going in who would do what tasks when you had to split them up for the roadblocks?

Joni: Yes, we did. I don't like water a lot, and so Lisa was going to do anything that had to do with water-swimming, diving, anything like that. I was going to eat and I was going to do anything that had to do with heights because I'm not afraid of heights.

Tribefan: So is that why you did the climb and rappel at the building?

Joni: Right.

miri: And how difficult was that? How many stories was that?

Joni: Thirty-three. It was 400-something feet. It was-going up, I tell people this. I felt like I had actually died on about the 7th floor, and then just drug my body up like a mermaid. I was having so much trouble, but then I looked over and I could see like Ray was even holding onto the rail, moving slow, and Danielle was going slow, and Fran and-everybody was. So I knew that it wasn't just me. Because I was going to be really embarrassed if everybody was already at the bottom and I was still climbing up the stairs. But once I got to the top and they gave me water and stuff like that, it was okay. Coming down was-going down the side of the building was a breeze.

Tribefan: Yeah, you did seem to just kind of slide on down.

Joni: Oh, yeah. You really have to work. Halfway down-it's you with your arms actually pulling the rope, making yourself go-but then about halfway down, the weight of your body will bring you down the rest of the way. So once I got to that halfway mark, I was like this giant spider. I was like, wooo! and just kind of went all the way down. But they wouldn't let us actually rappel, you know, like you see on TV. I wanted to like bounce off the side. But no, they said, walk down the side. So we actually had to just kind of walk a little bit. But then some of the guys toward the bottom went really fast because like then your weight pulls you down. And that's why I think they showed me saying, I'm so fat, I'm just going on down, because that's what happened. It was like, it looks easy, and it is. I'm so fat, I'm just going on down.

miri: Had you ever rappelled before?

Joni: Never.

miri: Well, that's pretty cool, then.
Because the whole process goes by so fast, you don't actually have time to stop and think. But then at these certain points, I was like, wow.
Joni: Yeah, it was. And when I was at the top, I remember looking out. And you could see the whole city. I mean, you could see for like just-I don't know how many hundreds of miles you could see out. And there were certain points, like at the starting line, and that was another point where I said, what am I doing? Because the whole process goes by so fast, you don't actually have time to stop and think. But then at these certain points, I was like, wow.

miri: It just comes up and like hits you every now and then.

Joni: Yeah. And somebody asked me before about it, and I said, I've always heard people use the word "surreal," and I always thought, what is surreal? That's exactly-I felt it. That's exactly what it is. It's like you're in this moment that you don't even-it doesn't even seem real. It's like you're watching yourself do something, almost, you know? I was just-it was crazy.

Tribefan: I'll bet. It's really frustrating to watch the episode where you were eliminated and just watch Lisa struggling with that car. I mean, did she have a lot of experience driving stick, or was it really just that car was so temperamental?

Joni: It was not the stick. It was not the fact that she was driving a stick. She had driven one for years. It was the car. It wouldn't-any time she barely let off the clutch, it died. The sugar cane field where we had to go was not flat. It was like hills, up and down, up and down. And it was covered with gravel, and not little gravel but big like inch by inch chunks of gravel. And because people know that it's not just two people in the car, but there's four people in the car because you've got your sound and your cameraman, there was a lot of weight in our car. And we would get to the top of the little gravel hill, and the car would slide all the way backwards and it would die. So she would start it again and try to go up the hill. So it was so frustrating for her. And the whole time, I'm patting her on the shoulder because she did the best she could. And the car probably-we may have gotten it up to 40 miles an hour. That's even like going down the highways that we were having to go down. Because it just-you couldn't do it. It was like a 1967.

Tribefan: Oh, my gosh. So it was definitely on its last legs.

miri: And it sounds like you had a burned-out clutch, or an almost burned-out clutch.

Joni: Something. And plus we were lost. We stayed lost all day. Every place we went, we were lost.

Tribefan: It was so dark when you guys checked in. I mean, how far behind everyone were you?

Joni: We were only like 45 minutes behind Fran and Barry.

Tribefan: Oh, okay.

Joni: It looked like it was a lot later. And there, what's weird is when the sun starts going down, you don't have a lot of time between daylight and dark. It's almost like somebody flips a switch because we looked at our watch. We were waiting for our ethanol or whatever that was to make. And it was like, I think, 5:00. And Lisa said, we have got to get out of this sugar cane field before dark because we'll never make it out. And it took a long time there because the wind kept blowing the Bunsen burner out. The flame was going sideways instead of going straight up. So that took like about an hour and a half, it seems like, to do that whole thing. And then we left and it was like 6:30 or so and it just started getting dark. And once it got dark, we started going in circles. And we kept-there was a dead cow on the side of the road. And we passed it, and then we kept driving and driving and driving and driving, and then we saw it again. And I said, well, maybe that's just a different dead cow. Maybe that's not-I was trying to remain positive-maybe that's not the same dead cow.

Tribefan: It's an epidemic.

Joni: Mad cow disease. And it was the same cow because we had been going in circles.

miri: It just sounds like you guys had just one of the most frustrating days ever.

Joni: We did. We really did.

miri: Everything just kept going wrong.

Joni: Yeah, we did. You know, I have no doubt if we had not gotten lost-because we were lost for hours, at least three hours in the sugar cane field alone. If we had not gotten lost, we would have probably, I don't know, lasted another couple of legs. I mean, really, because-but it got dark, and once we got lost, that was it.

miri: I think a lot of people had a reaction to the scene in the car where Lisa is having the difficulty and you're trying to help her stay calm and they're like, wow, it's this early in the Race and they're already fighting like this. But it just sounds like it was just frustration piled upon frustration that day that kind of brought that out.

Joni: Yeah, it was. And then we were going down in this little city, in Brotas. We were driving, and the people that live there would stand on the corners, and like we would pull over to ask for directions, and they would just start laughing. And it was like-it's funny now, but-

Tribefan: It wasn't funny then.

Joni: They had seen all the other teams. And we were like going down the wrong way down one-way streets, and everybody was doing it. And some of the teams didn't know to take the sticker off their windshield because the Volkswagens were all marked with the big-you know, the Race sticker. And so I think that the Danis and BJ and Tyler left their stickers on the windshield. And so all the locals knew what was going on because they had already seen all these little Volkswagens with Americans driving like maniacs through their city. And so we would say, "Can you help us?" And they were like, "Ha ha ha ha!"

Tribefan: Not fair.

Joni: Yeah. It was just a combination of everything.

Tribefan: Oh, my gosh. I mean, really, like I said, when I watch it, it's like palpable. You can feel the frustration. And you do a really good job of staying positive.
It's really—I mean, anybody that knows me, it takes a lot to get me upset. I mean, because one thing I've learned is, what good does it do?
Joni: Yeah. It's really-I mean, anybody that knows me, it takes a lot to get me upset. I mean, because one thing I've learned is, what good does it do? You know, getting upset, what good does it do? It doesn't help. It only like makes matters worse. And so it would have taken a lot more than that to get me all-or they would have gotten some good scenes.

(Laughter)

Tribefan: That's what they were hoping for.

Joni: I know. I know.

Tribefan: But they have a couple of shots of you in the back seat looking like maybe you just want to run away from the pain. But-

Joni: Yeah. There's one scene, one shot, where it shows me putting the map over my face real slow, and if you look in the window beside me, the car is going backwards. That was one of the times we were rolling backwards down the hill. And I knew that she was going to freak out because here we go again. We were rolling backwards. But that's why I did that. I was like, oh, Lord, here we go.

Tribefan: Yeah. In anticipation of what's going to come. Oh, my gosh. Well, I'm sure that you probably knew going in that you were probably the last team at the mat.

Joni: We did.

Tribefan: Did you think that anybody was behind you?

Joni: No, we did. I know one time when we were lost in the field, the car got stuck. And we were trying to turn around, and the wheels kept spinning. And we got out of the car, and we could look, and we could actually see what we thought were-well, we didn't know at first it was the Pit Stop. But we could see lights, and there's an Insider video that you hear me say, "Look, there's lights over there. Let's just try to walk to it." That was actually the Pit Stop that we could see across the field. And if we had gotten there then, we would have been in front of Fran and Barry. But we couldn't make it. But we knew after that long a time that there was no hope. And then we got to where the Pit Stop was and we couldn't find Phil. And it was a farmhouse. And so here we are. I said, "Well, maybe Phil went to bed. Maybe he's inside the farmhouse." And so we're walking on this porch going, "Phil!", looking and going to knock. And then we happened to see the lights around the back, and then we saw him standing there.

Tribefan: He was awake.

Joni: Yeah. You could tell by the look on our faces, we knew.

Tribefan: Yeah. I mean, Lisa really sobbed. She was just-

Joni: They cut that down, too. Yeah, that really-the mat chat lasted 30, 45 minutes, probably. She got very upset. They had to actually step her back off the mat a little bit to let her kind of catch her breath. I mean, she was heartbroken.

Tribefan: Was it a combination of just being sad at being eliminated and the frustration of the day, or-

Joni: Yeah. I think the frustration just magnified it. You know, when you're tired, you're having a bad day, I mean, the least little thing, you just kind of-ahhh-I think that just magnified it and made it that much worse for her.

miri: And it seemed to me she had a lot of emotional investment in this. This is just something she wanted to do so badly.

Joni: Right.

miri: And that must have made it all that much harder to deal with.

Joni: Yeah. And one thing, when we were doing our exit interview, and I know it's not any-I shouldn't even compare it to this. But in a way, it's like when you find out you're pregnant. And so you don't think of yourself as being pregnant. You think of yourself as having a child, and you can see the child in your mind, running around and playing and stuff like that. And then for people who have lost a baby, you don't just lose the baby, but you lose the whole dream. And I think for her, for so long she carried a dream that she saw herself run the Race. And she wanted to at least finish it and do all this stuff. And so then all of a sudden it's just like ripped away, and then you know it's gone forever. And I'll never do this again. And I think that that's what it was. It just ended way, way too soon.

Tribefan: So sad.

Joni: Yeah. Yeah.

miri: And John said she had a lot of trouble in Sequesterville, too. Was that hard when you first went there?

Joni: It wasn't for me. But yeah, the shock-it's hard to explain. You're still in shock when you get there. And then on top of the shock, you're in a foreign country. In a foreign country, nobody speaks English. And so you're dealing with all this stuff. And so there were a couple of days that she didn't want to get out or didn't want to do anything. But the girls that were there were great and they didn't push us to do anything if we didn't want to or anything. And John and Scott actually went to Sequesterville the same day we did. We all flew together. And so that was good. And we all sat and just talked about stuff. That's what happens, like as teams are eliminated and they get sent to Sequesterville, they have a chance to purge and just to talk about it and stuff like that. And so that's what we had a chance to do. And after she did that, she was better.

miri: That's good.

Tribefan: And good therapy with people who've been there and understand.

miri: No one else can. They were the only ones who knew what you were feeling at that point.

Tribefan: Is there anything that happened that you wish had made it to air, things that happened that would have been fun for us to see or would have given us a better insight into you?

Joni: They probably picked the craziest, most embarrassing things to show. Every time I said, "Oh, my God," or "Oh, crap," or anything, "My panties are falling down," I mean-

Tribefan: We're all about the pants falling down. That makes us laugh.

Joni: To me, that was no big deal. What happened was I had dove under this table when I saw the clue in this office building. And then when I stood back up, and then when you say things, you're not even saying it loud enough, really, for anybody to hear. I said, "Oh, my panties are falling down." But when it's on the microphone, they make it sound like you're telling the whole office complex that your panties just fell down. So they picked-you know, they picked some good things to air.

Tribefan: And they captioned it.

Joni: Like, "Did you fart?"

(Laughter)

Joni: I mouthed that! How in the world did they pick it up? I'm going to learn sign language. If I ever go on anything else, I'm going to hold up cards because, believe me, it'll pick up anything.

miri: You need to learn telepathy. Right?

Joni: Something. Something besides that.

Tribefan: Oh, gosh. As people came to Sequesterville and they talked about the places they'd been and all that, are there places that you really wished-I mean, I know you wanted the whole dream and running the whole Race. But were there any places in particular you really wished you could have gone?

Joni: For me, no, not really. I was just excited to be there. I was just happy. I had never gone outside the United States before. The furthest I had ever gone was Florida. So I was just excited to go anywhere. And I know-I think Lisa had wanted to go to France or some islands. I forgot where she said she wanted to go. But being an artist, there are some places that she really had wished that she could have gone to. But as far as I go, I was just happy. I didn't care.

Tribefan: You were just glad to be there in the moment.

Joni: I was glad. Yes.

Tribefan: In hindsight, besides learning sign language, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I mean, because people say, "What did you all do to prepare?" We took our nails off.
Joni: Besides not taking a 300-lb. backpack, I probably would have exercised. I probably would have tried to lose some weight. I mean, because people say, "What did you all do to prepare?" We took our nails off.

(Laughter)

Joni: We cut our-yes. We cut our hair. And we tanned a couple of times. We had no idea. And then you think, why were we chosen? And think about that.

Tribefan: Yeah. For those reasons.

(Laughter)

Joni: I guess they had to throw some people in there just, I guess, for the comedy. I don't know.

Tribefan: Yeah. Well, different types. Everybody shouldn't be a little gym bunny. That's no fun.

Joni: That's true. They need to have a race for people that are totally out of shape.

Tribefan: Oh, I agree.

Joni: And I think they need to do some kind of testing, and just take the people that-and make it like a really level, physically level, playing field. Because I know even the way it is, like there's three or four really in shape. Look at Yolanda, Ray and Yolanda. And there are tasks for people that are really in shape to excel at, and then there are other tasks for people that aren't. There's the eating challenges. I mean, so really just a level playing field. But I just think they need to have a race for people that are out of shape, and I'll do it again. For really big, slow, and old people.

Tribefan: I like that. I can relate.

miri: And then it can be called the Amazing Stroll. That's what Steve and Dave always called their race.

Joni: The Amazing Walk. Yeah, the Amazing Stroll or the Amazing Trot.

Tribefan: That would be good.

miri: I like it. Let's get together and pitch it to CBS.

Tribefan: I think so. Because I could not relate at all to these people who are all buff and-

Joni: I'm telling you.

Tribefan: So yeah, preparing for the Race physically would be something you did differently.

Joni: Definitely. I walked around my neighborhood. That's one of the ways I prepared. I walked. What good is that? I walked around. I should have carried a backpack full of bricks or done something. I should have-when you're watching it, like I said, on TV, you don't see everything the way it really is. I would have tried to go with less sleep. I don't know.

miri: It's really interesting, because even when we talk to people who have done all that, who've done the like walking around with big heavy backpacks or gone to the gym with the treadmill and done all that kind of stuff, they still feel unprepared.

Joni: It's mental. A lot of it is mental. And the pressure, and the stress, because stress will make your body do weird things.

Tribefan: Yeah. We've seen some of the most physically capable people totally burn out on the Race because they can't function without sleep, or they're terrible navigators, or all kinds of other reasons. So you can prepare. I mean, I know that Ray and Deana prepared a lot. But they didn't-they went halfway through, not even. So I guess you just don't know.

miri: Well, and a lot of it is just luck. A lot of it is very much luck.

Joni: That's true. Yeah. If I do anything else again, I think I'll do like Trading Spouses. That's what I want to do. That'll be a lot easier for me. I don't think I'll have to-when I can just drive somebody nuts.

miri: I don't know, you got a pretty good guy there. We met him at TARcon. He seems like a pretty good guy.

Joni: I know. I have the most wonderful husband in the world. I really do. And he loves me in all my deficiencies or whatever, shortcomings. He does, and that's great. But I told him, I said, if I ever do another reality show, I think Trading Spouses will be it because I want to drive somebody crazy.

Tribefan: Yeah, and you'll have new appreciation for each other when it's all over.

Joni: True. That's true.

miri: And I know you have a son who's-he's like early 20s, late teenager?

Joni: Yeah. He's 18. And I have a daughter that's 21.

miri: What was it like for them seeing their mom on TV talking-like you said, with the mikes picking up all of your crazy stuff?
Joni entertains the crowd at The Early Show
Joni entertains the crowd at The Early Show
Joni: Well, since they know me as well as they do, they weren't surprised at all. They thought it was hilarious. And they told all their friends, and their friends watched it. And their friends know how I am. I mean, what you see is what you get. It's like there's no hidden agendas here. Love me or hate me, I'm who I am. And they got a kick out of it.

Tribefan: I think you guys were reading the boards although you weren't allowed to post. But what were you reading about yourselves, and what did you just want to scream and tell them to stop saying about you?

Joni: You know, I laughed my butt off because I watched it with America. Okay? I had not seen myself till everybody else saw it. And I thought the same thing everybody else did. Shut up! Run! And so I could totally understand it. Everybody's got opinions and I'm like-I mean, there's a difference between the real person and the person that you see on the show, on the Race. You see a little bit of the person, and that's a sort of condensed version of me. Yes, I did say, "Oh, my God," and "Oh, crap," and stuff like that all the time. I don't say it that much in that short a time. But I thought the same thing. I laughed at all that stuff. I couldn't wait to be able to post. I could not wait. And I'm ready for Season 10. I know I'm going to go a lot easier on people now because I've been on the other side of it.

Tribefan: A different perspective now.

Joni: Right. But I can't wait. I've been reading all the little-

Tribefan: All the spoilers? Yeah. I love the spoilers myself.

Joni: Uh-huh.

Tribefan: We got some good ones early on, so this should be-

Joni: I'm telling you. I was reading this morning. Yeah. And the pictures and all that stuff.

Tribefan: Yeah. That's always fun. We didn't get much about your Race ahead of time. I don't think we had many spoilers for your Race.

Joni: Yeah. I think the first-because my husband was reading the boards while I was away because he wanted to kind of keep up because we knew how stuff leaks out. And when he saw that we had left from Denver and saw the Danis' pictures and they were at the airport, I think that was the first big thing that was leaked out.

Tribefan: Right. Yeah, we did get that. Because on some race-I think it was Season 5-where there was a description of every team that made it to Australia or wherever they were. And we didn't have so many last time.

miri: Season 3 was the worst, though, I think. We knew the final three. Even I, who don't read spoilers, knew the final three.

Joni: Wow.

Tribefan: I know going into the Race, you two, you and Lisa, didn't live in the same state, even, for so many years-

Joni: No.

Tribefan: -- and didn't spend a lot of time together. And one of you said in a pre-race interview that you really wanted to rediscover yourselves as sisters. Were you able to do that through this experience?

Joni: I think so. I think so, yeah. It's still hard, though. I mean, even when you're apart for so many years, you get back together, there's still the big sister. There's still the little sister. And we got along great. I mean, we found out that we're just so much alike in a lot of ways. We're different in a lot of ways, but we're more alike than different. But now it's kind of back to the way it was, to where she's back in Florida. Now I'm in California. I'm even further away from her than I was because I was in Texas. And I haven't really talked to her since New York.

Tribefan: Well, you have that memory now that you share together of running the Race.

Joni: That's true. It went down in history for everybody to see. We shared it with the world.

Tribefan: Maybe it'll be on DVD someday.

Joni: That's true. That's true.

Tribefan: What did you learn about yourself through this whole process?

Joni: Oh, boy. Let me think about that one. It's not that I learned really anything about myself. But I just-I mean, I never take things really seriously. But I'm even taking them less seriously now and just taking things one day at a time. One thing I did do is after-okay. We talked about the plastic surgery thing. Let me just address that. Because we would watch the plastic surgery shows and say, we're going to get a little nip, a little tuck. I mean, really, if somebody has the money and they want to get it done, I think eight out of ten women would do it. If given the opportunity, the money, the everything, I think a lot more people would do it than would admit will do it. But after we went and saw the things we did-we saw poverty, we saw people with no arms and legs and a little tin can in freezing weather on the sidewalk, we saw these things. It began to hit home that what we thought were-the things we thought were important are not important. What's important is having people that love you, having a place to stay, having plenty of food, you know, things like this, the basic things.

So when we moved here, out to California, we gave-my family and I, we gave everything away. We gave all our furniture away. We gave all of our food, our pots, our pans, our glasses, our dishes, our washer, our dryer, our refrigerator-we gave everything away. And we came out here with nothing. We have a little furnished apartment now. But that's one thing that I learned, was that material stuff, it doesn't matter. It's just stuff. And as long as you've got your health and a family, then that's all that matters.

miri: And that's a really powerful thing to learn.

Joni: Yeah. And the plastic surgery thing flew out the window. I'm like, why in the world? If I had the money now, I would be out there trying to make a difference, and trying to help people, and trying to get these kids off the street and stuff like that. Because I had never seen anything like that firsthand, ever.

miri: And this is in Brazil?

Joni: We saw it in Brazil, but we saw in Sequesterville.

miri: In Sequesterville?
And she was singing. This voice was coming out of her. And she had her little can in front of her. And I was like, look at her. She's using what she has, and all she has is her voice.
Joni: Uh-huh. And the streets are little cobblestone streets. And it was freezing. It was cold and it was wet almost the whole time we were there. And we were walking down the street one day, and we heard a lady, this voice, just singing. It's like an opera singer. And it was echoing down these little alleyways. And so we finally came to where she was, and she had no legs. And she had a dress on. And I remember seeing her, and she didn't even have eyeballs. It was just like empty sockets. And she was singing. This voice was coming out of her. And she had her little can in front of her. And I was like, look at her. She's using what she has, and all she has is her voice. You know, she can't walk. She can't see. But she's singing. She's just trying to get some money. And you could tell-you know how sometimes you see people and you can tell, okay, they're just panhandlers and-no. You could definitely tell that she... I mean, her clothes were dirty. And I just stood there and said, how could I even think about spending $20,000, $30,000 on plastic surgery, getting an eye job or a neck lift or whatever, when this woman is hungry? I mean, I'm serious. And that just all-that all changed.

Tribefan: Well, it's one thing to read about it or hear about it. We know that there's poverty and horrible things in the world. But I guess for you seeing it firsthand-

Joni: Yeah. We live in a bubble. A lot of people live in a little bubble. And, I mean, if anybody has the opportunity to travel like that, I would-yeah. I'd say do it. Just go over there and just look and see what these people are going through.

Tribefan: Well, you learned a lot when you were on the Race. That's for sure. So you're all settled in from the move? A big transition here. But you've moved and you're all settled in in California now?

Joni: Yes. It's beautiful here. Yeah, I feel like I live in a picture out of a calendar. It's just the mountains and the flowers. In Texas, it's so hot that, pretty much, the colors of the flowers fade. And here everything's like dark and rich and deep colors. Everything is beautiful. And the wind constantly blows. We have a breeze all the time. And the high gets up to like 82. I mean, my thermostat was on 82 at the house in Texas, almost.

Tribefan: You're making miri jealous.

Joni: Y'all come see me!

(Laughter)

Tribefan: I'm in Ohio. It's not quite as hot here.

miri: So are you just going to turn into the total California girl now? You love it out there?

Joni: I don't know. I guess for-I don't know how long we're going to be here. Anywhere from 6 to 8 months, maybe a year. I don't know how long we're going to be here. I don't even-I don't know. No telling. Life is an amazing race. I'm at a pit stop. I'm ready for the next leg.

miri: There you go.

Tribefan: That's a good way to look at it. You're just at a pit stop.

Joni: And I got rid of all my baggage so I'm not carrying the bag again.

Tribefan: The backpack, you left that in Texas.

Joni: It's a lot faster without baggage.

Tribefan: That's a lesson I could use myself.

miri: I think a lot of us could use that lesson. I know I could. Well, listen, thank you so much. This has been so much fun.

Joni: Well, yeah. It has been.

Tribefan: Well, it was very, very, very pleasant to talk to you. I'm so glad we got this chance.

Joni: Yeah. Me, too. You all call me again. You have my number. If y'all want to do anything, just call me, or if y'all plan a trip out here, call me.

Tribefan & miri: Absolutely.