Here are some things to consider and ask yourself. A good salesperson should ask you these questions:
1) Where do you see yourself skiing most of time? As in, on groomed, track-set trails; out in the back 40 blazing your own trail, or, more serious backcountry skiing. For the first two, gear is not mutually exclusive but you should lean towards one or the other.
2) Do you want to learn to wax your skis, or go with the convenience of "no-wax" skis? In a perfect world, you should get a pair of each. Most people don't. "No-wax" skis are super-convenient and work best in mild temps and wetter snow conditions. If you go this way, get a rub-on wax helps with glide and prevents icing up. Swix makes Easy-Glide, which is great. Yeah, I know you thought they were no-wax...
Waxing is not as complicated as you might think and will give you better glide (which = less energy expended) and way better performance on colder days and dry snow conditions.
3) Do you have a price range in mind? You can get a half-decent trail-oriented package for $300 or so. If you can spend $500 or so, you'll get some nice gear for recreational skiing. Spend more money on boots, if you are going to upgrade anything. Just like downhill gear, the boots are your interface between you and the ski.
4) Salomon VS NNN. IMHO it doesn't matter. Get what ever boot fits you best and then get the binding that goes with it. Let the shop install the bindings.
5) Don't buy old crappy gear at the thrift shop. And don't buy new crappy gear at the big box store: support your local XC specialty shop!
thanks for the advice, but i only intend to ski on some local golf courses or walking paths
OK, that's question number 1 answered: golf courses and walking trails count as "back 40" in my books. If you are going to buy new, look for a no-wax type ski like the Fischer BC Country Crown. Awesome golf course ski, nice forgiving flex and very stable. With the right boot, you could crank a a few teles if the golf course has some hills. It will still work in tracks if you decide to go further.
i was in the same boat a few years ago and picked up some whitewoods explorers mounted with NNN's (http://www.eriksports.com/nordic_skis.html) and have been having a blast! seems to be a decent ski a good pricepoint to try something new. great dimensions for wandering off track and even trying to make a few turns. i'm on my third season on them and looking to upgrade to some 10th mountains/epochs with 3 pins