I hear ya. I've got a 3rg gen Airport Extreme; I bought it after a botched firmware upgrade attempt on my old Linksys router (the firmware updater said "You Update Fail" -nice Chingrish message) that bricked it.
The 5.6 software's good, and I use "AirPort Utility 5.6.1 Launcher" which allows it to run on Mavericks, which it otherwise wouldn't due to Apple's attempt to force users to the crappy, ball-sucking 6.x version.
What really pissed me off about Apple though was that they crippled the router's firmware; I used to run the DHCP and BIND services on my Mac Mini with all my computers and devices set up in my own local DNS and the DHCP service pointed to the Mini for DNS. Worked great, until a firmware update disabled DCHP routing from ethernet to wireless! Lots of complaints about that in the forums, which Apple ignored. Now I'm forced to use the ISP's DNS, or configure static addresses on the clients, which is annoying because they're mobile.
I hope that over time this dumbing-down, "appliance" approach to their products fades now that Steve Jobs is gone, because I think the attitude started with him.