Hey WanderingEng it sounds like this was an awesome trip. I'd definitely recommend Big Bend for some great desert hiking.
big bend is about ten hours depressing driving down i10 from austin
In my opinion, the drive is not so depressing. Nothing like the open Texas road. Just don't watch the movie Nocturnal Animals w/ Jake Gyllenhaal before making the drive and I would recommend making the drive early morning so you could arrive in Big Bend with a bit of daylight left. The hikes/desert in Big Bend is remarkable. I camped out in Terlingua, which is a small, very cool ghost town with a population of 58 just outside of the park. My fav part about spending time in Big Bend was being able to cross the border to Mexico via walking across a shallow stream. My brother and I were able to hang out in this little Mexican bar and enjoy a few beers before walking back across the stream to America.