After a seven-year run as Heidi the Tool Time girl on ABC’s hit sitcom Home Improvement Debbe Dunning has worked consistently in television, film and national endorsement deals. An avid outdoorswoman, equestrian and athlete this new show merges all of Debbe’s passions into an action packed and informative half hour. “Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Round-Up” brings the experience straight to your living room as she travels every week to visit unique dude ranches that are scattered throughout this great country in the hopes that by watching the show it creates an interest for viewers to experience one for themselves.
Debbe’s goal is to visit all of the dude ranches in the United States and beyond, featuring all of the wonderful amenities each has to offer. This season will take viewers on exciting adventures from white-water rapids in Colorado to mountain biking in Arizona and exploring the petroglyphs in Montana. Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Round-Up airs on RFD-TV on Wednesdays at 9pm ET/6pm PT.
— — —
Chris Remmers: One of our objectives at SCP is to encourage people to go out and explore this miracle of a planet. So, we’ll be discussing the places you’ve been, the things you’ve seen along your journeys and how that’s influenced your career. Let’s start by telling us a little bit about where you’re from.
Debbe Dunnings: I’m from Burbank, California, but I currently reside in San Diego. I actually grew up and went to the same high school my parents went too and it’s funny people think it’s a large town, but its actually quite small. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to come and visit in my opinion.
CR: Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the area?
DD: I think I would definitely send them to Yosemite National Park, or when a lot of people come in, they tend to want to check out Hollywood. A major attraction over there is sunset boulevard, but where I grew up in Burbank it was a tiny little town. I would always go to the beach at 12 years old. It was just safe back then. I would recommend Malibu. You can really take your pick of an hour to drive into the mountains or half hour to drive to the beach.
CR: That sounds like the best of both worlds. You have had an accomplished career between modeling, acting and writing. What were some of your inspirations growing up? What lead you to fall into this position right now?
DD: I started out just doing little contests at school. I won miss Burbank in 1994 when I was in high school. I would do beach volleyball and bikini contests to make some extra money on the weekends. I think that’s what took me to an agent that suggested doing sportswear and activewear — things of that nature. So, I woke up, went down to the office, they gave me a shot and the rest is kind of history. From there, I started doing modeling and commercials, to then getting small roles and just went for it. I always remind people if you love what your doing it’s never work.
CR: That is incredible! Anybody that gets to wake up everyday doing what they love should consider themselves truly blessed, not many people can say that.
DD: I’ve been so incredibly fortunate. You know, when I was a waitress in Pasadena I actually did love it. While I was a dental assistant I loved getting in there and cleaning peoples teeth. Then, I got a few jobs traveling and eventually ended up landing a roll on Home Improvement, which was amazing. I got to laugh practically all day every day! Now, I’m doing my show and I get to travel around and still laugh every day, just this time going from dude ranch to dude ranch. I get to see all the different parts of this beautiful country of ours.
CR: Between all of your travels and experiences modeling, has there been any locations along the way that have stood out to you over the years? Any places you would deem a “must see”?
DD: Yes of course! I’ve been to Tavarua, Bali and Hawaii. These are all places I feel are must-see places at some point in your life. They were all absolutely incredible. One year I think I did Hawaii something like five-or-six times it was pretty wild. There have been so many amazing places I could go on for days. I was in Tahiti one time for this photo shoot and it was just incredible. We ate beautiful fruit and hung out in our bathing suits all day, everything about it was just gorgeous. I’ve been pretty lucky. When I start to reflect, I definitely feel pretty blessed.
CR: I know you’ve got some projects out right now. The latest one is “Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup” on RFD-TV. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that project. How did it go from being an idea to reality.
DD: It’s pretty much about me traveling all across the US. I’m going to eventually try and hit Australia — maybe a couple in Costa Rica. We go from dude ranch to dude ranch with my crew highlighting all the amazing amenities that they have to offer. There’s so much more to do than just going out and riding a horse, which is what a lot of people don’t realize. It’s actually pretty crazy. You can find things like zip-lining, hatchet throwing, fly fishing, bike riding, rock climbing and mountain climbing, among others. It’s so much fun. I’ve literally climbed a rock where I was all harnessed up and it was still scary, because I’ve never climbed a flat rock before. But, it was cool because I’m learning. Every time I go to a new dude ranch I learn a new skill.
CR: What are some of your personal favorite activities when traveling to these various dude ranches across the country?
DD: This is a tough one! Of course, I love the horseback riding. That’s one of my favorites by far. I also love doing a bunch of other things though. I love being involved in the mini rodeo and getting to cut the cattle out of the bunch, it’s really a lot of fun. I also really love fly fishing, which I didn’t think I was going to be to good at in the beginning. But, once you catch your first fish, you realize, “Wow! This is therapeutic and amazing!” There’s this one dude ranch called Rainbow Trout in Colorado, and they have all kinds of activities from fishing to disc golf, but they are very well known for their fly fishing. Another huge draw there is just the hospitality and how friendly everybody is. I had an amazing experience there.
CR: For some of us going to a dude ranch for the first time are there any places specifically that you would recommend? Any tips?
DD: If you’re a dog lover, and you want to travel with your dog, I would say call ahead and make sure it’s okay. There are a lot of wranglers that bring their dog. Usually, as long as it’s friendly and gets along with other animals, they’re normally okay with it. That being said, I would suggest anywhere in Colorado. You have everything from the hiking to rafting. You could hop on a horse and have your dog follow you.
CR: When you’re traveling around for work or even for pleasure, what are some of the first things you like to do when you touch down in a new location?
DD: It’s become routine to touch down and hit Walmart. We always like to pick up some food and snacks for the road, because we work way earlier and later than anybody. So, we will fill up our cooler and hit the road going. It’s actually pretty cool, because our cameraman has a drone and he always records us coming into a new location. You can see so much more from that perspective than strapped into the seat of a car. When we get there, we film the whole thing right as it’s happening, so my audience gets a feel for what it’s like at that dude ranch.
CR: If you could travel to any three places around the world, where would those be?
DD: Let’s see! I would probably go to the Ukraine, since my family is from Kiev. I would like to visit Ireland, because my other grandparents were originally from there. Then, I think somewhere tropical. I think maybe back to Tahiti. I was there 20 years ago, and it still resonates with me today.