wp-SwimTeam demo up and running

I have spent quite a bit of my free time lately re-working my wp-SwimTeam WordPress plugin in a quest to get a demo site up and running.  In the process I changed quite a bit, some because I had no choice, some because I was knee deep in the code and decided it was time to fix some things I wasn’t real happy with.

A lot of the work involved working with Google Maps API.  The Google APIs are really pretty cool, if you need to do some work with AJAX or Javascript, they are worth looking into.  I ended up using the new Google AJAX API (which can load the Maps API) and the new syntax.  There seems to almost no performance degradation from loading Google’s JS libraries as compared to loading them directly from the host site.

A bunch of the work was neccessary because GoDaddy, the provider hosting the demo site, doesn’t support PEAR which I was using to access the database.  I needed to migrate to the WordPress database abstraction layer.  As opposed to just hacking up the plugin to do this, I decided to do it right and enhance phpHtmlLib with a new database abstraction layer specifically for WordPress.  I also made the changes to phpHtmlLib to make it into a WordPress plugin.

All in all, a lot of work behind the scenes which isn’t visible to the end user but in the long will make using wp-SwimTeam by other people much easier.  There are quite a few posts on my wp-SwimTeam development blog if you are interested in all of the nitty-gritty details along with my frustrations with GoDaddy Support.

Hanging Rock State Park

Last weekend we took the family up to Hanging Rock State Park in north central North Carolina.  We had planned to camp for two nights in the park but when we arrived about 4:30 the camp ground was already full.  Uh-oh.  Now what?

We had passed the Sertoma 4H camp on our way in the Camp Host told us there was a small campground as part of the 4H property which we should try.  So we headed back down the hill and found Camp Sertoma.  It doesn’t look like much when you pull in but considering we didn’t have many options, it met our needs.  It turns out, it is actually a pretty nice campground as long as you don’t mind fairly primitive camping (we don’t).

A small storm moved in just as we arrived and we ended up setting our tent up in the rain on a site near the stream.  This turned out to be a great site as the kids played in the stream constantly for two days whenever we were back at camp.    We picked up some firewood from a local resident down the road a mile or so and were ready to make dinner.

On Saturday we hiked three trails – Hanging Rock, Upper Cascades, and Hidden Falls/Windows Falls.  Of the three, the kids liked the Hidden Falls/Windows Falls the best as there was lots of rocks to climb and they liked following the stream back up the hill.  The Hanging Rock trail is a nice hike, it is fairly long and some of the steps up are tough for smaller kids but our four (ages 6-13) all made it without any problem.  The view from the top is impressive.  After about 6 hours of hiking, we went back to camp for a while to get something to eat and drink and veg out.  We then went back to the park to check out the swim lake.

On Sunday we hiked the Lower Cascades and the Tory’s Den / Tory Falls trails.  The Lower Cascades is well worth doing, the falls are the nicest we saw in the park and there are some smaller, less traveled paths up and down the falls area that are worth exploring.  The Tory’s Den/Falls trail was disappointing as there was very little water flowing and what there was, was hard to see.

All in all, a great weekend, it was nice to get away before every weekend is consumed with soccer games for the next 3 months!