First off I have to say this is a great site and forum and I'm looking forward to learning about my new hobby and making some friends along the way.
I attended a meetup/herf with some coworkers and forum members at Churchill's (in West Bloomfield Michigan, I can't post links yet) about two months ago and had a great time. This is my introduction to the forum and I wanted to give some info about myself and ask for some advice.
I'm fairly new to what I think of as 'proper' cigar smoking and totally new to pipes. I've always enjoyed the occasional cigar but I've never felt that I knew what to buy or where to start in the hobby. Where I'm at right now has a few people I know irl from the forums giving me great information and then my family and friends smoking anything from Swisher Sweets to who knows what. I'm looking to gain some insight into my tastes and that means starting here with you all and asking for any recommendations you can spare. I know that the site has a great community and is a good opportunity for someone like me to stop being intimidated by the wealth of products for sale and, armed with information and experience, start appreciating what's out there.
Specifically to pipes, I'm looking to get started for a few reasons. First, I'm not a regular smoker. I appreciate the act of smoking and the effects but I'm not looking for a 'pack a day' habit. I would say that I smoke maybe 2-4 cigars a month, mainly due to some self imposed rules. I haven't broken the seal on smoking in my house or car and I don't take smoke breaks at work. For me smoking is more of an event, something I can do an the weekends or evenings. Based on that, smoking a cigar at a friends or outside is something I do but it's really a commitment. You have to have at *least* a good 30 minutes to appreciate a cigar and from what I've heard it's not ideal to light and relight (something I have to do often, due to my inexperience). So, while I do enjoy cigars and will slowly be expanding my range, I'm more interested in learning about pipes. From what I can tell, smoking a pipe takes less time and less money 'smoke to smoke' than a cigar. Also, my fiancee is interested in both pipes and cigars and with the wide variety of pipe tobaccos out there I thought it would be a good way for the two of us to quickly move through a lot of different flavors.
So, my main questions are about the basics. What should I get for my first pipe? I've heard corncob and work your way up from there; I don't mind paying for something good if it will last though. I've been scoping out some Peterson pipes that look great and seem like they would age very well. Also, are there any good guides to how to do the basics: lighting, keeping the flame going, making sure I don't ruin the tobacco. etc? I don't want to get a pipe and waste my time with bad technique.
Thanks for reading this far and thanks for any responses that I get! I'm new to the forum but I think I'll be here for a long time.