I went to my wood source, Hardwood Resource, located in Martinez, Ca. Truxtun is very helpful when it comes to my many wood building questions. He also has lots of nice exotic hardwoods.
I picked out three pieces, all 8ft long (2.4m), and when I glue them together will be around 18" in width. These sizes give me enough room to work with, and a little scrap so I can test wood staining, etc., at the end.
Next step is to have the edges jointed.
Now that the edge jointing is done, it's time to have the wood planed to smooth the surfaces, and get a uniform thickness.
The planing went well, so now I have three pieces ready to be glued together.