Quick thoughts on the camera stuff: the 10-22mm lens is better than I ever hoped. This lens is a relative bargain, and a no-brainer for me. The 24-105mm is very good; the problem is that I was hoping for excellent. Very low distortion, nice, smooth AF, and the constant f/4 is *very* nice. On the downside, the lens was a bit heavier and bulkier than I figured it would be. The worst part was that ~30% of my shots were at one of the zoom limits, which is higher than I was looking for given the wide range of the lens. It's not *the* lens, like I hoped it would be. All in all, though, reasonable price for what it does, and looking around (even among Nikon lenses), there isn't another one that I could consider substituting. I'll be getting this one too. The 20D was also kinda mixed. It's a very solid and obviously durable camera: generally high quality all around. One big reason I was wanting this over the Rebel XT was the thumb wheel on the back, which seemed much more convenient than the wheel by the shutter button. BUT, it doesn't adjust the things I want. In aperture priority mode, it adjusts the shutter speed and vice versa. Gah! I'll have to play with the Rebel at Glazer's or something.
Abridged trip report: yesterday I wandered around Pike Place Market, Gas Works Park, and Kerry Park (where half of the Seattle photos you've seen have been taken from). Today I went to Tacoma, planning to do indoor stuff at the glass museum. Unfortunately, they turn out not to allow photography in the museum at all. Bah to them. Instead, I went to this historic greenhouse (which was amazing! So many pretty flowers and plants!) and the park at the tip of the bay (can't remember the name now, and too lazy to look it up in the guide book), which had lots of nice things to photograph, but surprisingly no good sunset location. Ended up at this place called (IIRC) Engine No. 9 for dinner (a converted firehouse, natch). They served the best microbrews I've had on this coast (nearly as good as the ones from Bethlehem Brewworks in PA). Too bad the food was utter crap. Even the salad was awful (worst balsamic vinegar I've ever tasted).
I will permit myself to indulge in this one story, though. Shortly after I got my appetizer, this lovely young man went up to the bar near where I was sitting. He was 6'2", with a handsome face full of perfectly groomed light brown hair tinted almost auburn in the dim light. He bore a big black backpack, with muscular arms and imposing hands (when did this become a Harlequin novel?) clutching what looked like an expensive Nikon camera. My chili burger had just arrived, and was sitting next to my sampler of 6 of their beers, when he introduced himself. He's a photographer for Seattle Magazine, and was doing a story on this place, and would I mind being photographed? Would I mind. Anyway, we had a nice,short chat, and my beer, my dinner, and my shirt and hand are likely to be in an upcoming issue: watch for it! I also gave him my URL for my photos, so it'd be nice if something happened there. Woo!