Best answer as chosen by user naran13: I Answered My Own Question
I finally got around to making a LiveUSB of Fedora 17.
I used it on another laptop that can boot from USB, and saw that the hard drive shows up under Places.
So, yes, the hard drive can be reached from live media, but only if it works!
Thanks Kees and wpgwpg. You guys pointed out it was the hard drive/BIOS, but I guess I had to learn it the hard way
Thanks to everybody for the replies and suggestions.
Happy New Year!