I was out at Vail two years ago and at Breckenridge last year. When I went out to Vail two years ago I had only been on a board for about 3 days so needless to say I wasn't very good. I wouldn't worry about Vail being too much for you. You probably won't be hitting up any blacks but compared to the the east coast, all the runs out there are epic and just so much better. Even just the greens are significantly longer and I think you'll end up progressing faster by going out there since you'll spend less time in lines and on the lift and more time riding/practicing. Just don't get stuck on catwalks!
Also, there are plenty of groomed blues and blacks for if you're feeling adventurous but don't want to deal with the bumpiness of ungroomed ones.
In terms of boards I have pretty limited experience, but I was riding a k2 raygun before I upgraded this year. It was a really nice board and pretty forgiving imo. It could handle the beginner/intermediate riding I was doing pretty well and I would definitely take a look at it. If you can get your hands on last year's model, it won't be too expensive either.
Also, $100/day was definitely worth it, for me at least. Even a terrible day out west is better than a great day back east. If you figure on average for a full day weekend lift ticket in say PA, it costs like $70 bucks and every run I went on (even when I was still learning at the beginning) took me a max of like 2 minutes. I remember at the end of my first day coming down the mountain at Vail (at a noob pace) it took me closer to 20-25min. I think an extra $40 or so for thata is worth it and I think if you go, you'll just fall in love with the sport even more.
Last edited by inpajamas; 01-17-2013 at 02:07 PM.