I know from looking around on the site of the university I work for that we do have a flute professor here-- I'm half tempted to e-mail her and see if she has any recommendations of where to buy locally. Just worried that might be a little rude, out of the blue like that.
I only plan on playing it at home, perhaps maybe once in awhile bringing it with me on trips to the mountains, and I'm very careful with everything I own so durability shouldn't be a huge problem, though I know accidents happen. Also, the cheap one may just be til I find out if I do want to get more serious again, at which time I might be able to invest more. A book I checked out from the library here from 1980, How to Love Your Flute, seems to have some good basic care instructions to help out.
ETA: I'm half tempted to grab this before someone else does- $85 shipped with BIN, and even if it isn't perfect, at least shops will work on a Gemeinhardt- http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... K:MEWAX:IT
I know the seller has 0 FB but with PayPal at least I'd get my money back if I do get ripped off.
ETA2: Bought it! For that price figured it was worth the risk, should be fine for me to practice on at least. Was a little concerned because I've heard sometimes they try to unload stolen items quickly with low BINs, but if that were so, I doubt they'd post such a clear pic of the serial number like that? I know musical instruments are a big target though; always heard of band rooms getting hit and even one of my teachers found her stolen trumpet in a pawn shop.