Goofed up my first post.
How about a cheaper option. The above bikes are awesome, bust most are between $1,000 and $2,000. For $300 you could get a decent-enough mountain bike from Trek/Gary Fisher, etc. Have the show swap out the tires for some 1.5" slicks for free. Then you'd be set for roads, fire roads, trails, commuting, etc. Everything except extreme mountain biking and super fast road rides. Plus, mountain bikes tend to be easier to handle than a drop bar road bike for a newbie, especially off road.
I agree with buying from a good local shop that will back up their product.