Thanks all for the replies. I wound up buying the 2012 model at the LBS -- well local as in only 50 mins away, vs. 2hrs. In the end, I decided there just wasn't enough difference between the '12 and '13.
If anyone is interested in the backstory, it's apparently a difficult thing to order a Salsa bike (full kit). My more-local shop (Pinnacle/Beverly) couldn't order a '13 Vaya at all, but their rep suggested I check with this other shop (Wheelworks/Belmont), which had one in stock—but it wound up being a 2012. They told me 2013s were completely gone for the season! I really wanted the '13 because it had BB7s (vs. 5) a slightly wider gearing, and an x.9 rear der. After a day of messing around with the bike (unfortunately unable to take a proper ride yet, combo of crazy wind chill and kid duty), I have the sense I may have been right on the brakes and the gearing… feels like it could use a bit lower of a bail-out gear. But the Apex rear der. shifts fine.
About those brakes, one of my "fears" of ordering online was what if there was something that needed mechanical attention that was beyond my skill set? Well, when I got home, the back wheel wouldnt spin a quarter turn because the rear brake was so badly out of position. I think I would have noticed that on the 30 minutes or so I had the bike on a test ride, so something must of got haywire during the final mech check before I took it home. Irony, I suppose.
Luckily, I have the BB5s on an old hard tail, and have had to work on them in the past. I was able to get them aligned, though it's a bit of labor to get done. Since the rotors are slightly out of true (I imagine most are), I have to wear these brakes in a bit ("bedding in process") I think to get them to be completely silent.
This should be a fun bike for me. I have the gear to use it as my commuter, but I chose the Vaya for its dirt prowess… the plan to is to ride the road to some of the preserves around here whose dirt roads and trails are too mild for a proper MTB. More time in the saddle and less in the car, plus some exploration of the local back roads. Should be a good time.
PS: if you're looking for a Vaya, Pinnacle has a '12 in 56cm, and Bikeman has (at least) a '13 in 54cm.