First things first. Get your boots sorted out. It there is even a tiny bit of heel lift or lateral movement of you foot inside your boot while you ski, then your not going to progress quickly at all. You'll absolutely get better performance out of a boot with a custom foot-bed, skip the skinny off the shelf variety and get at least a set of DFP's or Conformables. Do this with the most experiences boot-fitter you can find.
The day you tried on your new boots in the store, hopefully the salesperson took the liner out and had you insert your bare foot into the shell. Then he/she asked you to touch the from of the boot with your big toe. Then to flex your knee. They then measured the space between your heel and the shell. Ideally in a well fit boot you want about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch back there.
The deal is that the padding in the liner compresses around your foot as you ski (you mnight have heard the term 'memory foam'). As this material compresses you get extra volume in the boot. This translates to the movement I was talking about earlier. You move your knee and ankle, in effect 'instructing the ski' by tipping it up on edge or steering. If your foot moves, some of that instruction is lost and your ski doesnt react as you intended. It's a little slower and your skiing experience is diminished.
The good news is that the new footbed can be molded and shaped in a way to absorb some of that excess volume. You reaslly don't want to do that with a sock as the sock material will compress during the day.
I wear a 9.5 street shoe and I buy a size 8 ski boot. The first three days are hell. I get in a few hours around the house, then a half day on the hill and switch back to my old boots. Do that for a few days and at the end I have a perfectly packed out boot. the foam is as packed as it can get and it won't deviate for a few years (I replace boots about every 5 years it seems, not sure I could handle the first three days any more often, it really does suck). After that, wearing the thinnest sock I can find (Wigwam Ultimax has been my pick the last two seasons) I get the foot beds done.
By the way, an 8 shell serves both the 8 and the 8.5 sizes. A 9 shell serves both the 9 & 6.5 sizes. I want a super close fit so I'm dropping to the next lower shell size. I choose the thicker liner as it will take and hold it's shape the best.
I am admitedly very, very picky about my gear. I'm also an ex-patroller from a mid-western urban ski area where on a weekend you could pull a 14 hour ski shift. Ski boot's for 14 hours is something everyone should try at least once...
My rule of thumb! A good boot and a good tune can make a mediocre ski, ski like a dream. A bad tune and or bad fitting boot can make a great ski feel like crap!
Oh by the way - do the Western trip! Salt Lake is easy from Boston and Solitude and Brighton are great areas. They don't get the reputation of the other front range areas, Alta and Snowbird, but they also get way, way less traffic and hey - you went to ski, not stand in line, eh! My wife and I had a great experience with the Brighton ski school. Took a gal (Jenni-fur) out for a private in the morning and kept her all day. That foot bed and maybe a power strap will set you back $100 (don't buy the cork ones yet!) The private lesson will set you back $100 to $140 depending on the are and how well you tip ... do tip these folks don't make all that much money for the most part...although it is a whole lot more than the patroller's make! That trip plus the $250 will do more for your skiing than anything else you can do right now. By the way, Salt Lake has historically been a cheap rental car market. We generally rent a car and stay at a Hampton Inn in Sandy or Murray which is south western Salt Lake as I recall. It's been a couple of years since we have been there. SLC can be a real good low dough trip. Cheaper than summit county and in general less skier traffic.
If you have a decent shell fit then it will improve you boot's performance and you'll have more fun. While you're out west, scope the used stores for some new higher performance boots. If you follow my thoughts above and have a buddy and a 3/4 inch dowel, you can probable score a boot to carry you a little farther for very low dough. While you're at the area or have the opportunity to visit a ski shop, you might get someone to look at the shape of your foot and make some suggestions about the boot manufacture'r they recommend. In general for a narrow shapeless foot, Raichle and Lange. For a widish foot overall Technica, a wideish fore foot Salomon. Nordica seems to be a pretty average volume overall. I'm no boot fitter though and someone who does this a lot will be very helpful. Good knowledge to have if you'll be trolling through the used gear places...