ok.. thanks to an anonymous post from an article I did a few days ago I am relooking at the freescale processor. it turns out there is a demo board available for 75$, and I think it comes with a TCP/IP stack.. so that sounds really reasonable. I already contacted the manufacture to see if they will sample the demo board (most likely not) and upon rejection I will probably order it.
This article talks about how CMX has a small free stack. that may be worth looking into!
I'm thinking of contacting one of my professors from school (bryce) to see if he ever got someone to make him a datalogger for stream temperature. that my be a fun first project.