Well, I never heard back from the guy in Dallas regarding the Kona Smoke, and it had a 17" fame anyway, so I've moved on.
Been looking at The Niner MCR, but they're simply too expensive and, like the Novara Ponderosa, have no good way to mount fenders or a rack.
I've also looked at the Novara Safari, which gets RAVE reviews BUT, it's linited to 700x47 tires, and I want to go bigger. Plus the fact that for 2011 and 2012 it lost disc brakes (but gained a steel frame). It would make a great commuter...
I found a Redline D440 that looks as if it's NOS on eBay and will be keeping an eye on that over the next 24 hours. It really does have what I'm looking for and gets good scores from users. The 2010 (and 2009) have V-brakes, but include braze-ons for discs. I figure this route would be the easiest as far as getting a good-quality steel bike and swapping part from my Diamondback Century. I can add a mondo disc brake to the fromt later (keeping the V-brake in the rear), as the front is where the disc brake does the most good. I like the 1x9 gearing, which with my MAC kit and 11-32 freewheel would become a 1x7. That suits me fine. One less set of controls on the handlebars.
I'm still looking for a Marin Muirwoods as well, but those (in my size) seem not to be available on CL or eBay, and the ones that I can find are older, so no disc brakes.
The dream is alive!