Register for www.nikonians.org
then look at this deal for an 18-200mm Nikkor.
$580 shipped is pretty cheap. Might be a little more than you want to spend, but at least you will not be spending it twice...until you want a 70-200mm F2.8.
Use bid-o-matic or some other type of auto bid system for ebay. Everyone else does...why shouldn't you?
There are tons of websites with great reviews. (FWIW many hate Ken Rockwell) Thom Hogan has decent reviews. http://www.bythom.com/
(Message edited by Peter_C on May 21, 2008)