Hi. I'm Ken Anderson from Santa Maria, California on the Central Coast of California and work at Vandenberg AFB. Around here they say you aren't bbq'ing unless you are doing it "Santa Maria Style", which is a tri-tip roast cooked over red oak coals.
I have not smoked before except for adding flavor to my grill with a smoker box and some wood chips. I like to use the "Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel" chips. I am still cooking at about 300 degrees with indirect heat to cook a tri-tip 3 lb roast or a whole chicken in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I have grilled a turkey for the last couple of Thanksgivings using this method.
I just ordered a Landmann GOSM 38", 2 drawer, vertical propane smoker from Costco and should get it this week. I also ordered Jeff's book on Smoking Meat from Amazon and it should get here a day or two before the smoker. I'm looking forward to slow smoking some meat and I'm hoping to get into my first smoke next weekend.