Man.. I wish you were close by.. I have taught myself most of what I have done, but I could learn a lot from you.I would think for a once every 100k or so, a little engine lift isn't so bad. You really only need to disconnect the shifter linkage, unbolt the mounts, and then jack the transmission up. It's not awful. I mean, you basically have to do that for a 9-3 V6 from the factory!
Edit: I wonder if you could slot the water pump flange on that one bolt so you would only need to loosen it and not remove it entirely. Or, maybe replace the bolt with a stud?