Well, after sifting through all the information, advice, and suggestions, and after talking to several diesel mechanics and powerstroke engine specialists, and after weighing the pros and cons of every decision, we made a final decision about our truck.
With no thanks to Ford corporate whatsoever (we're a very disappointed Ford family), we are going to have our engine replaced at Fremont Ford in Sheridan where it is currently located. It's not the least expensive option, but it's not the biggest financial gamble either. As many folks have said, it's the simplest option and allows us to keep a truck we are familiar with and which is set up how we want it.
The new engine will come with a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and since we are replacing the entire engine, Ford can't claim any future failure was caused by faulty repair or parts.
In speaking with numerous diesel mechanics, we were told that the 6.0L engine is actually a pretty good motor if some tweaks are made to shore up its weakest points which are in the emissions system. And all have said our problem, which seems to be unrelated to most of the 6.0L engine problems, appears to have been a bit of a fluke. Of course, that doesn't make me feel any better. :)
We were just about ready to have the truck shipped somewhere else to be repaired, but after doing some homework, we found the tech at Fremont Ford in Sheridan that will be doing our engine replacement has a very strong reputation. And their quote is not far off quotes we got elsewhere (they are going to work with us bringing it down a little bit).
So did we make the best decision or the right decision? We have no idea, but we made a well researched, well thought out decision, and the best part is we made a decision, and we should be back on the road early next week. That in itself is a big relief and we're ready to get back to it and see how it all turns out.
Again, thanks to everyone for all your support!!