I started my digital camera search back in June, and between then and now I've been doing research and trying out different cameras. I sincerely appreciate the input everyone gave, and I finally decided on the Canon PowerShot S5 IS.
It is an 8 megapixel SLR-like camera with image stabilization and 12x optical zoom. After a whole lot of agonizing I finally decided this style of camera fits my style of photography. I often go from macro to 500mm zoom in a few seconds, and I just can't do that with a SLR. We also travel a lot, and the idea of lugging around extra lenses just so we could take the kind of pictures we've grown accustomed to was very off-putting. The real kicker was when I found it for under $350 from buydig.com, which is half the cost of just the body of most of the SLR's I was looking at. They even included free shipping.
Our friend Pam loaned us her S5 (thanks a billion!) and here are a series of pictures Myron took in our back yard, looking across the marsh. All three pictures were taken with him standing in the same spot. No tripod was used. The first is a regular picture, no zoom at all. (The shadows are from the trees. He is facing slightly northwest and this is early morning.) The second is with the 12x optical zoom. The final is 12x optical with 4x digital zoom (48x digital equivalent). I don't think we'll be using the digital zoom much. Oh, and all those little gray blobs are snails. :-)