Sunday, June 3, 2012

Point Lay

We left Point Hope on Tuesday and headed to Point Lay, a village with an estimated population of 200 or less. The town was only about 5 blocks long. Our lodging this time, was at the health clinic. Each village has health aids that work on a 2 week on 2 week off type of schedule. During their 2 weeks on they can stay in the apartment at the clinic. The two Coast Guard corpsmen (Betsy and Polo), Dr. Coburn (the Barrow vet), and I stayed in the little apartment inside the clinic that is used by health aids. Dr. Q (USPHS Vet) and Scott (Coast Guard Lieutenant) slept in the dental room, I think Scott actually slept on the dental exam chair!

It was a beautiful sunny day when we showed up, and the ice on the little inlet right next to town was breaking up. What a breathtaking site! As we took in the sites, we were greeted by little children, most of which ended up following us from house to house as we vaccinated the dogs. It was like our own little parade!

We performed 4 or 5 spays/neuters in Point Lay, where we set up our "surgery suite" in the garage of the health clinic. I'm learning so much about surgery and becoming more confident in my knowledge by getting to work with Dr. Coburn and Dr. Q. It's been so great getting to ask them questions about the drugs used, the different surgical techniques, etc.

On the last evening, Dr. Coburn (who prefers to be called Sarah) and I went for a walk down by the beach and then up into the tundra. Two girls, Amy and Khaleah (I love that name!) came with us on our walk. We walked on the beach to the seal skin boat that was used to successfully hunt the bowhead whale. Point Lay is allowed one bowhead whale during the spring whaling season. The boat of the successful whaling team is then placed on shore with the whaling teams flag flying from it to indicate which team was successful. In Barrow, they can have somewhere between 10-20 whales each season and the beach is lined with about 15 boats!

Walking on the tundra was amazing. There were tons of little birds flying around. The Ptarmigans were my favorite. They make a funny sound, which sounds like they are super annoyed. We also found a couple caribou skeletons.

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