More from the Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois.
I went ahead and purchased Photomatix for some HDR processing. Of all of the options available, it seems to be the defacto gold standard for quality.
The pictures I took at the GotG were with HDR processing in mind. So while most of them were handheld (versus tripod), I did use bracketed exposures (0, +2, -2) with the hope that the software could compensate for any camera movement.
At any rate, I will be posting more of the results of this learning experience as I find the time to go through my shots.