You guys down in Phoenix should get in touch with Virgil, K7VZ, Randy, K7NNT, and Richard, N7IYT. They run an ARRL-affiliated club, 4x4 Ham, that is probably a good match. Never met any of them face-to-face, but seem like alright guys.The local clubs we have around here did not seem to want people who would not make HAM a lifestyle having any part of operating a radio.
I think the hobby can be anything you want it to be, no reason to get intimidated. Just have to find the right mentors (Elmer) and fellow amateurs. That's why I think having it part of our 4x4 club is better, gives a purpose to the geek. Same as ARES/RACES, the radio supports SAR and EMCOMM use or volunteering to help local events. I get to mix my radio skills and bike shop experience supporting large cycling events throughout the summer, so that's fun.