After listening to the Telescope shows I decided I was going to go out an buy a scope. I decided on a $300 to $400 budget and headed off to the Internet. Pamela had mentioned Oceanside Photo & Telescope so my first stop was over there.
After a few hours of looking around and reading what Oceanside had to say, I settled on a Meade DS-2114 (big mistake, I know). I guess I never thought of checking a companies financial history before making a purchase.
I got my first scope and the mount displayed a motor fault when trying to test the motors. I RMAd that back to Meade and two weeks later I got my second mount. I happily put everything together again and when I turned it on I heard the sickest grinding noise in the mount. I disconnect that, called Meade and then sent the second motor back. The third mount finally came and guess what, it was bad as well. Finally I boxed the whole thing up and shipped it back to Oceanside in trade for a Celestron Nexstar 130SLT. After two months of headache and disappointment I was beginning to look at the sky.
I have two comments to make about the whole situation.
1) Craig Weatherwax the owner of Oceanside is an asset to his industry. I kept in touch with him the whole time. Without his help I would have been stuck with a $300 non-functioning hunk of junk in my closet. If you're looking to buy a scope, this is the guy to buy it from. Thanks for your assistance Craig.
2) For those of you looking at a Meade scope for your first telescope, STOP! They're more of a disappointment then most beginners are going to be willing to put up with. As one guy said to me "Keep their number handy because you're going to be calling them for parts all the time." Take a look at the company's financial history if you want more evidence. Search "Meade motor fault" and read the responses.
Thanks for the Oceanside recommendation Pamela.
P.S. Pamela, I saw you on "The Universe" the other night, looking good.