pointed me to your journal today, saying you'd recently begun posting about a new camera and photo outings around this area. I bought a Rebel Xti myself a few weeks ago and have been having a lot of fun getting to know my first SLR. I'm thinking a small get-together of avid photo-walkers would be fun once in a while. I know of a couple other people who'd like to travel a short distance now and then just for the sake of taking lots of pictures. If you're interested, let me know. My contact info is on my LJ home page.
I don't know if you'll remember me, but we've met, through Leland. I met you, BLR, Melissa, and a few others at Fiesta, maybe ten years ago. We might have seen each other a couple other times, e.g. at a Carl Evans New Year's Eve party or maybe Leland's going-away-from-Champaign party, but I don't remember.
On the subject of lenses: Like you, I got the 17-85mm IS USM lens. It's my walkaround lens now; the 18-55mm kit lens is a spare that sits at home. I am considering the EF-S 60mm macro, which gets astounding reviews for its sharpness, and is small and light since it's made for the 1.6 sensors. Given what I've read, it would be a reasonable walkaround lens for non-macro shots, since it can focus to infinity and is considerably faster than my 17-85mm. I'd learn to see compositions fit for a fixed, short telephoto length, but that's fine, and I can swap lenses now and then. I really want to spend money that I shouldn't on this lens! Have you looked at it?