I have been bike shopping for a few weeks and read all the advice. Seems like hybrid 29er is the usually recommendation. I have been looking at Kona's as they seem to be a MTB company and it seems like they would build beefier bikes.
The Dew Plus is on clearance for 500$ at a LBS and it has high spoke count and quality components. The only possible issue is the tires only go up to 85psi.
I have looked on craigslist and here in portland I don't find bikes on there to be super cheap.