Forget the Baggage

robert.burns@latimes.com

Summer is special for the agoraphobic traveler--a time to leave the self-help chat rooms behind and head out for the trip of a lifetime. Or at least a new URL.

Just for you, Click has collected some primo Webcams, much more interesting than the vacation photos your friends slip under those double-bolted doors.

We'll start someplace exciting: Iowa. Thousands of people use up some vacation time for the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (http://www.ragbrai.com). All those people and all that wide open space. Forget about it. But watching corn grow is an entirely different thing. Try the Corn Cam at http://www.iowafarmer.com/corncam/corn.html.

While we're on hot and humid, how about Florida? OK, so Disney World is out of the question. There's always the Manatee Cam (http://www.nccentral.com/citrus/ pages/manateecam/manateecam.htm). Sure, the old time mariners mistook manatees for mermaids, but they spent months in isolation. Oh.

We enjoy exchanging loving glances with a manatee as much as Billy Budd, but it is definitely time for a drink. So it's off to Key West and the Hog's Breath Saloon (http://www.hogsbreath.com/hogcam). With three cams going, it's fun to play spot the drunk tourist.

Other people socializing. Makes you want to hide, huh? How about underwater? We can jump on over to Bonaire in the Caribbean for the reef cam (http://www.bonairewebcams.com/BonaireReefCam.html).

Another site with no people, and we know you like that, is on the island of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. The Webcam, at http://www.noronha.com.br/english/index.html, gives a sweeping view, but don't click on the picture. You can get in, but you can't get out.

For a dry heat, we go north to Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano (http://www.cenapred.unam.mx/UIVR.html). Clouds. Wow.

We're starting to feel way too National Geographic here. If you can handle it, we'll head back to civilization. Remember, you can see the people, but they can't see you. And besides, there's nothing wrong with a little cultural tourism. Take the culture of body modification. You can see it live from Webcam at Psycho Clown Tattoo (http://www.psychoclown.com/index2.html) in Fort Worth. Click on anything but the Webcam at your own risk.

While we're in Texas and dealing with questionable taste, there's the Dealey Plaza Cam (http://www.earthcam.com/jfk), which gives you the view from the sixth floor window of the former Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. We looked but couldn't find the second gunman cam.

We have to head west for the best of poor taste, though. Yep, Las Vegas. One of the few pool cams you'd want to visit there is a viewer-controlled cam with zoom at the Hard Rock Hotel (http://www.lasvegas.com/webcam/camera1). And if getting hitched in a Vegas chapel just isn't enough, the world can see your intimate nuptials at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (http://www.earthcam.com/usa/nevada/lasvegas/weddingcam). Can you believe that dress?

Maybe it's time to head home. Most tourists in Southern California check out things such as the Hollywood sign (http://www.rfx.com/hollywood) or Laguna Beach (http://www.earthcam.com/usa/california/laguna). But what about the real people? Like those in a Torrance vacuum shop. All Makes Vac & Sew has two Webcams (http://www.vacsew.com/cam/amcam.htm). Or real people getting a real education, such as those at the California School of Dog Grooming in San Marcos (http://www.csdg.net/dge/doggiecam.html).

We'll leave you with a cam for bad tourists. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office offers several views of their jail at http://www.crime.com/info/jailcam_redirect.html. Hey, take away the inmates and it's almost like home.

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Robert Burns is an assistant Business editor for The Times.

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