There were no rules and, officially, no contest in our search for the 8th Wonders. But we did promise to give someone "something nice from the Travel section" for taking part.

That "something nice" is a copy of National Geographic's brand new "Atlas of the World" (a $165 value) that is, by the way, the Eighth (get it?) Edition. Plus dinner with Tribune Travel staff members at a suitably worldly and exotic restaurant in Chicago of the winner's choosing.

Somewhat by chance and somewhat by choice, I picked as the winner the submission that follows, not because I agreed with it, but because I enjoyed the reader's opinionated joy in telling us what she thought of our choices and hers.

Unbeknownst to me, the Travel writer who wrote many of the Wonders stories also had read the letter—and fired off a friendly but spirited defense of one of his (and our) favorite Wonders.

So let's hear first from our winner, Heather Hogan of Manteno. And then from the writer who begs to differ, Alan Solomon.

Travel—and writing about it—should be fun. Our dinner conversation should be too.

Point: The Wonders we missed

[Natural] The cliffs outside of Filingue, Niger. Actually the cliffs run from the 15th to the 9th parallel. The ancient river bed is about 10 to 20 kilometers across. The cliffs themselves are higher and more colorful than the Grand Canyon, just for comparison. Probably not on the list in the first place because Niger is an unexplored, unknown, undeveloped country. I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1991 in a small village here. I have never seen the Wadi Rum personally, but I would put my wadi up against it any day.

The Badlands, S.D. They inspire awe for some of the same reasons as the Grand Canyon, but there is more of them. The fossils are more visible also. The fact that the area teems with animal life is pretty incredible, given there is almost no rain or surface water. Compared to the Badlands, the Grand Canyon is one hole in the ground.

[Man-and-Nature] Wind Cave, S.D. The first cave named as a national monument by Teddy Roosevelt. It was accessed and developed prior to modern machinery. It has geological manifestations that no other explored cave in the world has. Its historical significance in conservation is beyond compare.

The Grand Canyon is just too small to stand up to the other six wonders you picked. The Bad- lands might make it. But quite frankly I think comparing the Grand Canyon to the 1,500 square miles of the Great Barrier Reef is like comparing a stream to the ocean (pun intended).

I can't believe the Black Hills, the temperate rain forests of the Northwest, the White Mountains and the Great Lakes did not make nominations. The largest contiguous body of freshwater in the world is something of a wonder. I nominate the Ohio River for its historical significance in the development of the U.S. Though compared to the wonders that made the top seven these might only be nominees.

If it comes to a vote I must vote for the backward flowing Chicago River. That is quite a feat of engineering. And Niagara Falls is pretty amazing. So many, I can see your difficulty in picking the top seven.

I enjoyed the list. Thanks for giving me a new list of places I need to go. I will skip the ones in Iraq and Israel for now.

If you want someone to go evaluate places, please say so. My travel bag and passport are getting a bit dusty.

—Heather Hogan, Manteno

Counterpoint:: The Wonder we didn't

Hi, Heather—

We're not supposed to answer these—there are too many entries, for one thing—but yours was intriguing.