Along the left side there's an index of key words - she has a whole load of different posts on it, all very enjoyable reads with plenty of photos. You could probably find all the answers to your questions there, develop new questions and have those answered too. Not that I'm against discussion or anything!
Rivendell Sam Hillborne, Brompton S3L, Masi Adventure Bike (Gravel Grinder)
Other suggestions, from New Albion Cycles, the Starling (inexpensive)
Rivendell discontinued their Yves Gomez/Betty Foy and came up with the Cheviot/Cheviut (my favorite)
As already suggested the Soma Buena Vista is quite nice.
Or pick up an inexpensive Nishiki and build that up.