My laptop got stolen argh. Fortunately I had backups and didn't lose anything, however, after re-installing everything on the new laptop I decided to start fresh. The reasons for that were that there was a new version of Ogre out and I ran across some posts on the Ogre forums about other developers doing the same thing with Ogre.
So this time I started with the OgrePlanet approach to creating a mesh from a movable and renderable derived object and used an index cache to store the 16 possible index orders (four sides of a square and each can be stitched or not). I also started out with my own neighbor and mesh creation algorithms just so I could really understand them and after I got them working, I realized that Sean O'Neil's algorithms were better thought out (he did spend years on the project), less crash prone, and more efficient.
So I re-implemented the quad tree node neighbors and then implemented the stitching and the index cache. Next up is normals and then either a simple texture job and/or heightmap building/importing.
This image shows what the planet mesh looks like when the camera is near the surface. It's hard to see in a small picture, but the mesh has no cracks. The tri count ranges from 3,000 to 20,000 currently.