I think I found the camera that I want to get: the Panasonic DMC-FZ8K. Got my hands on one over at Circuit City and was pretty impressed with the picture quality (at least what was shown on the itty bitty display) at high zoom and (relatively) low light as well as high contrast conditions (bright sun through the door, regular light inside). Pretty wide range of shutter speeds and ISO settings so I'll be able to play with low light imaging. I thought some of the buttons were a bit awkwardly placed, but that's just a matter of getting used to the camera. Uses SD cards, which is a plus, but is powered by a Li-ion battery pack which means I won't be able to use the pile of rechargable batteries I have.
I'll have to save up a bit for it, so I likely won't have a camera for my Providence and Minneapolis trips, but I should be able to pick one up in time for my reunion trip in September (unless I run across another camera I like better).
If I try hard enough, I might even be able to save up enough for a DSLR, but considering the price on some of them, I'll have to be really really frugal.