If your aspirations are for performance and competition events, then I'd make the trip up north to get off on the right kick. If you are just interested in recreational x/c skiing then rent locally, since we have good snow right now. You may have to use 3 pin bindings but you will at least have a frame of reference to comare to when buying SNS bindings. If you are just begining, I would recomend waxless ski for diagonal stride. I don't know about skating skiis type, but if you skate, you have to travel to areas that groom for skating. I just read in our local paper that the Sierra Club is getting together for x/c skiing this Saturday (24th) at the Howell Nature Center, 1:00 pm for a ski outing. My wife mentioned that she might want us to join them. The contact phone number 1-734-878-3689 (guys name is Ron). They rent skis at the nature center. I'd call them first to make sure they set aside skis and boots your size. I would bet that someone would show you basic technique, to get started. If not, shoot me a note and I'll help you out. It's a great workout/cross training for mtn biking, and a lot of fun. I've been x/c skiing for about 25 years and still enjoy the winters a lot because of it.