Outdoorish Scene

Hey… i have a question… in this forum i’ve heard skybox and skydome and all manners of “sky thingys”… I also have not heard a definate answer of how to achieve a realistic sky… what I have in mind is a desert scene with a highway running through it… I just need to know how to do good outside lighting (i think that involves area lighting???) and … yeah… that’s all i need
1)Outdoor lighting (area and hemi lights explained)
2)Realistic skies…(no plugins please)