Mongo, thanks for the information, but those coast-to-coast weekend trips are out of my budget. I'm thinking of waiting for the Boulder Summer camp and seeking help there.
Gene McGloin, your're right in that not many people in the Bay Area are qualified to teach Saotome sensei's weapons (but we have all the Iwama-ryu you want). Even though Saotome sensei has a large following here, the only person (who can teach his weapons) that I was told about is somebody from Aikido of Tamalpais. Definitely nobody from the Shobukan dojo around here. I'll also look about the John Lewis you say.
If you can make it up to Seattle you might find it helpful. We have an array of events that feature weapons training. You can check them out at http://www.aikieast.com
We're closer than the East coast anyway.